The Office of the State Archaeologist at the University of Iowa (OSA) serves the people of Iowa as the statutorily mandated repository for the State's archaeological collections according to Iowa Administrative Code 685, Chapters 7 and 8. This collection is comprised of artifactual materials from Paleoindian, Archaic, Woodland, Late Prehistoric, and Historic Cultures, as well as related photographs, written records, and other research material.
Types of Materials Curated
Over four million objects from more than 11,000 of Iowa's nearly 27,000 recorded sites are curated at the OSA. Numerous material types are represented including: ceramics, lithic tools and debris, faunal remains both worked and unworked, botanical remains, glass, metal, leather, textiles, and synthetic materials. For a fee, the OSA can:
- Curate artifact and document collections;
- Prepare and/or loan collections for exhibits or research; and
- Process flotation samples for botanical analysis.
How Curation is Funded
The OSA curates collections from contract- or grant-funded projects and private donations. Through cooperative curation agreements, the OSA curates collections for federal and state agencies.
How the Collections are Utilized
In addition to the archaeological collection, the OSA maintains comparative and teaching collections. The comparative collections are comprised of prehistoric and historic artifact types, lithic resources, fresh water bivalves, botanical specimens, and osteological collections of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The OSA staff and other researches use these collections to identify archaeological specimens. The OSA teaching collection is fundamental to the educational and outreach activities of the OSA. As defined in the Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 7, 685–7.1(3): “The teaching collection is an artifact collection in the repository developed by OSA to be used for instructional and display purposes.” The teaching collection includes artifacts without provenience, replicas, comparative osteological and botanical samples, and supporting resources including printed materials and audiovisuals.