"Archaeological items are derived from below-ground archaeology sites (although many of these items were disturbed from their in situ positions and brought to the surface via natural and human phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, field plowing and building activities. The vast majority of these are nonperishable items, such as stone tools and clay pottery fragments. Perishable materials made from wood, antler, bone, shell or textiles are rarely found in archaeological contexts, due to the acidic soils and temperate climatic conditions of our Northeastern environments (although some sites in the semi-arid Southwest do yield such perishables)." (Lucianne Lavin PhD., IAIS Director of Research & Collections)
The archaeological collection of the Institute for American Indian Studies features over 300,000 artifacts representing 1,300 New England Native American archaeology sites. Professional archaeological excavations by IAIS staff from 1970 - 1992 generated the majority of these collections, while a number of collections were acquired from avocational archaeologists. These were accepted by the Collections Committee for their significance to New England archaeology. They include sites with exceptional preservation of cultural remains; long destroyed sites, the only existing evidence for which are the amateur collections; and/or sites containing rare or unique items providing evidence of prehistoric aesthetics and spirituality very seldom found in New England.
The collections span over 12,000 years of indigenous history, including the objects from the oldest known site in Connecticut - the Templeton site in Washington (6LF21), radiocarbon-dated to 10,190 years before the present. Every cultural period of indigenous history is represented in these collections, including the colonial and federalist periods of Euro-American contact and settlement. Their objects represent the diverse histories of the many Native American communities that have occupied - and in some cases still do occupy - the landscape of New England. These archaeological collections have enormous historical significance. The great majority of the sites from which they were retrieved have been destroyed by urban development, suburban sprawl, river erosion, floods, and rising sea levels. The only remains of their occupants' culture are the items in our collection.
Niantic/Nehantic Clay Pot
Catalog Number: AIAI-3679
Reconstructed clay cooking pot with castellations, a series of 'points' around the collared rim and dentate 'toothed' impressed design. Dates to Late Woodland cultural period. Pottery sherds found in Smith Cove shell heap, Niantic, CT.
Eastern Woodlands Steatite Bowl
Catalog Number: 82-3-2/1
Large stone bowl carved from steatite/soapstone with lug handles found in Wallingford, CT. Dates to the Terminal Archaic cultural period (3700 to 1750 years ago).
Steatite Button Mold
Catalog Number: 76-1-721/240
Steatite/soapstone button mold found on the Meadows, Stratford and acquired by Rogers from another collector.
Meadowood Cache Blades
Catalog Number: 76-1-731/
Blades of Onondaga Chert found by Arthur E. Seward on his farm in Durham, CT.
Catalog Number: 76-1-504/009
Steatite/soapstone bullet mold found in Thamesville, CT and acquired by Rogers from another collector in August 1933.
Catalog Number: 76-1-719/149
Steatite/soapstone button mold found five and a half to six feet below the surface in a fire pit in a shell heap at the mouth of the Housatonic River, Milford, along with several fragments of English trade pipes, a small stone axe and a sheet of copper showing cutting with shears.
Catalog Number: 7-1-729/003
Bone fishhooks found in lower western end of Tubb's Shell Heap about 18 inches below the surface in Niantic, CT.
Catalog Number: 76-1-729/006
Engraved bones found approximately three feet below the surface in a fire pit near Tubb's Shell Heap in Niantic, CT. May be part of a whistle or flute.
Catalog Number: 76-1-718/082
Barbed point made of bone found at Old Merwin Farm in Milford, CT.
Catalog Number: 76-1-718/246
Double-barbed bone harpoon point found approximately three and a half feet below the surface in a fire pit at Old Merwin Farm in Milford, CT.
Incised Atlatl Weight
Catalog Number: 76-1-639/002
Incised steatite/soapstone atlatl weight (originally called bannerstones by early collectors and archaeologists because they were thought to have been carried on poles as banners) found at Old Field Lane in Milford, CT.
Expanded Archaeological Collection highlights coming soon!