At a glance
Million objects in the Archaeology Collection
Of collections owned by other public agencies and Tribes
Linear feet of field documents, maps, photos and media
Search the Collection
Many of the archaeology artifacts and records are available in the Burke Museum Collections Database. New data is added regularly, including non-diagnostic photos for inventory. In order to protect archaeological sites, no specific locations are available.
The Archaeology Collection contains artifacts, soil samples, animal and plant remains, and their associated field records.
History of Seattle
Comparative Faunal Collections
Burke archaeology collections are used by researchers from around the world to answer questions about human history, lifeways and health, past ecosystems and climate, and to reconnect to traditional knowledge.
Recent projects in our workrooms include studying the materials and weaving patterns of ancient baskets, diet of Seattle’s immigrant communities, sea mammal hunting in the Kuril Islands, river canoe construction in the Green River valley, and histories of prohibition era alcohol consumption in Seattle.
- Curator of Archaeology Dr. Peter Lape focuses primarily on understanding how people lived on small tropical islands in Island Southeast Asia. He studies pottery, food residues and marine sediments to answer questions about trade, diet history and past climates.
- Archaeology Collections Manager Laura Phillips is interested in topics that pertain to alternative and collaborative methods for researching and curating archaeological materials in light of the wealth of community knowledge about object care and preservation.
- Manager of Archaeology Curation Services Jack Johnson studies the ways in which humans interact with their environments. His research uses luminescence dating and X-ray fluorescence to help explore the connections between ancient cultural and environmental changes.
Questions & Answers
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions we receive. Have another question that you need help with? Contact us.
I’m a researcher. Can I visit the collection?
The Burke Museum has moved to a brand new facility! In order to unpack and prepare for opening, the Archaeology Collections are currently closed to visitors. Archaeological artifacts and records are available in the Burke Museum Collections Database.
We greatly appreciate the community's patience while we move our collections to their new home. The New Burke will open to the public in October 2019.
Archaeology contacts during the move:
- Laura Phillips for donations, research and other needs
- Jack Johnson to arrange for collection and archives deliveries
The Burke Museum actively encourages research on all of its collections. Interested researchers should contact us to obtain information on available collections, the research process and to schedule an appointment to discuss an individual research plan.
Archaeology regularly offers scholarships to support students, cultural experts and other researchers Archaeology has some research equipment available to borrow. Learn more about Archaeology Collections Scholarships.
All researchers will be required to complete a Research Request Form (PDF) detailing their project and agree to all listed conditions of access. A one-page description of the proposed research must also be submitted along with the form.
Can I have an object identified?
Our staff is able to answer questions and provide information on a time-available basis. For more details about identification and how to prepare to have something identified, see the Burke Museum Object Identification Request page.
I’d like to donate something. How do I go about doing that?
Does the Burke repatriate collections?
Yes, the Burke Museum works closely with tribes throughout the U.S., meeting the letter and spirit of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation act (NAGPRA). The Burke also works with other communities and countries to repatriate ancestors and sensitive artifacts. Learn more about Burke Museum Repatriation.
Can I become a volunteer?
We've compiled several online resources from outside of the Burke Museum that may also be of interest.
The Burke Museum stands on the lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial. Many Indigenous peoples thrive in this place—alive and strong.
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