Welcome to the exciting realm of Artifacts, Archaeology and Anthropology!
The Department of Research and Collections is the very core of the IAIS museum, which had its beginnings in local archaeological research and preservation. Research and Collections manages the museum’s material culture collections, which include some 6,000 ethnographic (post-European contact) items and over 300,000 archaeological artifacts. These cultural remains represent hundreds of Native American societies throughout the western Hemisphere. They range in age from over 12,000 years to the 20th century.
The artifacts we discover and curate enhance IAIS’s wonderful exhibits and are the basis for our many presentations and publications on Native American histories and cultures. The Department of Research and Collections collaborates with the Department of Education to produce engaging public exhibits, workshops, and publications that inform the public of the diversity, complexity and sophistication of indigenous cultures.
Many of the artifacts grace the pages of my recent book, Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History and Oral Traditions teach us about their Communities and Cultures (Lavin 2013), helping to tell the story of our state’s deep history. Archaeologists not only dig in the ground to uncover information on the diversity of human lifeways: they also dig in the book shelves and into oral histories. This is especially true for learning about and creating exhibits on post-colonial and contemporary indigenous communities. I know because I am an anthropologist with a specialization in the archaeology of Northeastern North America.
As Director of Research and Collections, I not only oversee our archaeological excavations, material analyses in our laboratory and our state of the art vault (where artifactual and ethnographic items are stored when they are not on exhibit). I also delve into the contents of our Research Library to facilitate my current research on the dozen or more tribes whose homelands were (and in some cases still are) western Connecticut when European traders and explorers first visited here. The department’s upcoming oral history project should provide even more information as well as the indigenous perspective on the histories of these tribes.
Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D.
Director of Research & Collections
Check out our archaeology website, Digging into the Past, for information on Connecticut's archaeological sites and educational resources.