The Archeology Division is engaged in a wide range of research projects. Some involve Native American cultures who occupied Nebraska for over 10,000 years, and others focus on the more recent occupation of the state by Europeans and other ethic groups. Following are highlights of current research projects.
Native American Archeology
25LC12 - 2009 University of Nebraska Field School testing project
The Duck Creek Site - 2007 research project
The Eagle Ridge Site - 1998 research project
The Central Plains Tradition
One of the most interesting and important Native American cultures in Nebraska is referred to by archeologists as the Central Plains tradition. This group flourished from about A.D. 1000 to 1400 and lived in permanent settlements throughout the eastern two-thirds of Nebraska. Who these people were and where they came from, what their lifestyle was, and what became of them is the subject of intense interest among those concerned with Nebraska archeology. Central Plains tradition populations lived in thousands of small hamlets or farmstead throughout the region. They built substantial square earthen or mud-plastered homes, grew a wide variety of crops, and hunted a diverse assortment of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Their material culture was some of the finest in Nebraska, including well-decorated ceramic pots, finely crafted stone tools and bone ornaments, hide-working tools, and digging implements.
Thanks in large measure to funding from the Nebraska Department of Roads through the Nebraska Highway Archeology Program, Society archeologists have developed an ongoing research program focusing on the Central Plains tradition culture. In recent years, ten sites have been excavated by the Society that reflect the full temporal and spatial range of this fascinating culture. These investigations are enabling Society archeologists to begin unraveling many of the mysteries of the Central Plains tradition. The project is ongoing and some of the most important topics being addressed include:
- Origin and fate of the culture
- Architectural variability
- Subsistence practices
- Social structure
Post-Contact Period Archeology
While archival information provides critical information for understanding Nebraska's nineteenth-century past, some questions are more appropriately addressed through archeology. Some important recent nineteenth-century investigations underway include efforts at Fort Atkinson and pioneer African-American structures at the Aldrich site in Nemaha County.