Our Material World

Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

From the food we put in our bodies to the furniture we put in our homes, human life is shaped by “stuff” all around us—and our stuff reveals surprising truths about our lives.

There’s a story in all our stuff—even the garbage we leave behind. Archaeologists study this material culture, and use it to understand people and cultures of the past.

Find out what happens when we throw our stuff away, when archaeologists do (or don’t) dig, how Native peoples across Washington state are using the archaeological record to revitalize traditional food practices today, and more in the Our Material World gallery.

Floor 3, Archaeology

"Culture serves to differentiate us as unique, discrete societies with our own sets of beliefs and traditions, but it also brings us together under the shared sign of what it means to be human."

Co-Curator Dr. Marata Tamaira, Māori (Ngāti Tūwharetoa Tribe)