As ASM is the largest and busiest state-run archaeological repository in the nation, the vast majority (about seven eighths) of ASM's collections are of an archaeological nature.
ASM's archaeological collections consist of approximately 300,000 cataloged items, 37,000+ cubic feet of bulk research material, 15,000 site survey collections, and several thousand type sherds.
Access may be granted for study at the museum or, in some instances, by loan to a scholar's home institution.
The archaeological collections are organized into the following sub collections.
- The Individually Cataloged Objects collection contains the primary reference materials for archaeological projects. These items are frequently used for exhibition, illustration in special publications and catalogs, teaching, and general comparative studies.
- The Bulk Material Research collection contains the primary documentation of the published and unpublished analyses of archaeological projects. These collections are used in a variety of ways, including preparation for further field work in the same area or adjacent areas and for restudies or more intensive studies of major artifact classes and other problem-oriented research.
- The Site Survey Collection, which consists of small diagnostic samples of sherds and lithics from thousands of sites across Arizona. These collections can be used to determine spatial and temporal outlines of prehistoric cultures in the region.
- The Southwestern Sherd Library, which consists of samples of southwestern pottery types from sites throughout the range of occurrence of the type. The library is used for comparative research and for identification and teaching purposes by ASM staff, scholars, and students.