Research

Dr. James T. Watson, associate curator of bioarchaeology, excavating in Mexico

Established in 1893, Arizona State Museum is one of the original research units of the University of Arizona (itself established in 1885). Research at ASM contributes to UA’s Land Grant mission by bridging compelling scholarship, dynamic teaching, and impactful outreach for the people of Arizona. 

ASM scholars conduct research to illuminate ancient and historical cultures and lifeways, and to better understand how the region's present-day cultures came to be. Some ongoing projects include:

  • Survey and excavations focused on the archaeology of the ancestral Hopi of the Little Colorado River Valley in northern Arizona.
  • Analyses of data and objects resulting from decades of excavations at Hokoham sites in southern Arizona.
  • Study of ancient migrations of people from northern Arizona and southern Utah to central and southern Arizona which resulted in the Salado phenomenon.
  • Research on the origins and influence of ancient groups in the Casas Grandes region of northern Mexico.
  • Fieldwork in central New Mexico and analyses of ceramics in existing museum collections to explore ethnicity, gender roles, and religion just prior to and after European contact.
  • Archival research to understand the living legacies of Spanish and Mexican natural resource law in the U.S. Southwest and how these inform present-day court cases.
  • Transcription, translation, examination, and publication of Spanish documents that record the experiences of Native people during the Spanish Colonial and early Mexican periods.
  • Investigations of prehistoric human biological and cultural adaptations to desert ecosystems.
  • Analyses of animal bones from archaeological sites to shed light on prehistoric and historic uses of fauna by southwestern peoples.
  • Non-destructive chemical analyses of artifacts to determine how they were made and used.