What is Archaeology?

Archaeology is the scientific study of past human cultural behavior, based on the analysis of material remains or artifacts (things made or modified by people) and their patterns and distribution within archaeological sites (places where evidence of past human social and cultural behavior are preserved).

One of the goals of archaeology is to expand our knowledge of history and prehistory by examining how people adapted to changes in their natural and social environments and their responses to contact with new ideas and different people.  Information recovered from archaeological sites adds incrementally to the accumulated knowledge and understanding of our shared past.

Why is MoDOT Conducting Archaeological Investigations?

MoDOT archaeologists conduct research and field investigations to identify and evaluate the significance of historic and prehistoric archaeological sites in areas that may be affected by proposed transportation projects. MoDOT carries out these studies in order to comply with federal and state preservation mandates, and as part of its larger commitment to environmental responsibility.

Where significant archaeological sites cannot be avoided or impacts to those sites cannot be sufficiently minimized, archaeologists may conduct excavations to recover artifacts and other data that might otherwise be lost or destroyed during construction of transportation projects.

General information on archaeology in Missouri—as well as the more common types of projectile points found in Missouri—are provided in the brochure available HERE.

Missouri Archaeological Society

The Missouri Archaeological Society is a nonprofit organization that encourages cooperation among professional and amateur archaeologists, promotes the study of prehistoric and historic remains in Missouri, and foster the dissemination of research in archaeology and related disciplines.

Society for American Archaeology

The Society for American Archaeology is an international organization dedicated to the research, interpretation, and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas.

Society for Historical Archaeology

The Society for Historical Archaeology is the largest scholarly group concerned with the archaeology of the modern world (A.D. 1400-present), and promotes the research and dissemination of information concerning historical archaeology.

Resources for Teachers and Students:

Society for American Archaeology’s Archaeology Teaching Guidelines

Resources for Teachers and Students:

The National Park Service Archaeological Program’s Teachers Resources

Resources for Teachers and Students:

Learn about the Osage People Past and Present - Osage Nation's K-12 Lesson Plans

Avenue of the Saints Project

MoDOT produced an 11-minute video that explains how large-scale archaeological investigations are conducted and provides information regarding the sites being investigated.

Uncovering Ancient St. Louis

Modern St. Louis residents may not realize that their city once hosted a complex Native American culture, represented by a cluster of mounds, possibly an actual city rivaling the Cahokia Mound site across the Mississippi River.  This is a 30 minute video posted at the Archaeology Channel.

Footsteps into the World Beneath

Six hundred years ago, humans, black bears, and mountain lions inhabited a Missouri cave. Follow archaeologists as they document prehistoric footprints, rock art, torch marks, bear tracks, beds, and much more in this cave. This is a 30 minute video posted at the Archaeology Channel.