Office of the State Archaeologist

Man standing in the collections repository at the Office of the State Archaeologist

Established in 1959, the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) serves a unique dual role in Iowa as both a designated research unit of The University of Iowa and as a state agency. OSA’s mission is to develop, disseminate, and preserve knowledge of Iowa’s human past through archaeological research, scientific discovery, public stewardship, service, and education.

As the statutorily mandated repository for the State’s archaeological collections, OSA curates over four million objects from more than 12,000 of Iowa’s over 30,000 recorded sites. These objects include artifactual materials from Paleoindian, Archaic, Woodland, Late Prehistoric, and Historic Cultures, as well as related photographs, written records, and other research material.

The UI Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) has in its collections thousands of artifacts from sites where the ancestors of today’s Native American communities lived or visited. OSA works closely with the OSA Indian Advisory Council, which includes representatives from five area tribes, on archaeological issues impacting Indigenous people and outreach initiatives that share some their story. OSA is also involved with the UI Native American Council. No objects or images featured in Connected for Life programs, videos, or photo galleries are from a mortuary or sacred context; OSA does not publicly share images of such objects.