History Nebraska Blog

Welcome to Archeology Month!

New Nebraska State Archeologist Dave Williams conducting cultural resource monitoring at Rock Creek Station State Historical Park for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

My name is Dave Williams and I am Nebraska’s new (as of last November) State Archeologist, directing the State Archeology Office (SAO) here in Lincoln. I have the honor of filling the very large, very active shoes of Rob Bozell, who retired at the end of 2021. These past nine months have been a whirlwind of information collecting, meetings with numerous stakeholders, and familiarizing myself with the breadth of resources and history contained within Nebraska, but my family and I couldn’t be happier to now call Lincoln our home.

I joined History Nebraska after spending six-and-a-half years with the South Dakota State Historical Society in Rapid City, SD, where I was the Assistant State Archeologist and Contracts Manager. Prior to that, I worked at a private cultural resources management firm based in Lawrence, KS, assisting on projects across the Great Plains and Midwest. Other projects and companies I’ve worked for have allowed me to gain experience in the Great Basin and Colorado Rockies. I received my BA in Anthropology from the University of South Dakota and my MA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado Boulder, where I spent two summers in the Mexican state of Oaxaca (“wah-HA-kah”) analyzing thousands of obsidian artifacts for my thesis project. 

The author describing stratigraphy of portions of the Terminal Formative (ca. 150 BC–AD 100) acropolis at Río Viejo near the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The author describing stratigraphy of portions of the Terminal Formative (ca. 150 BC–AD 100) acropolis at Río Viejo near the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.

As we enter Nebraska Archeology Month, the SAO staff and I have the great opportunity to share with the citizens of Nebraska our passion and knowledge of the nearly 11,000 archeological sites so far documented around the state that span at least 13,000 years of history. From Paleoindian bison butchery sites to the military forts found at either end of the state, the people who have called Nebraska home for those thousands of years have left a wealth of data for us to identify, preserve, and promote through public programming, publications, and technical reports. Too often, the data we collect and information we learn about the past inhabitants of the area remains contained within our archives and repository, out of reach to the general public. So it is a thrill for me to get to share a glimpse into the unique and interesting facets of Nebraska history that most don’t get to see or learn about.

Map of Nebraska illustrating known, documented archeological sites across the state. Click to enlarge.

Check out the Piecing Together the Past exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum today!

Throughout my career, one of my favorite things has been sharing my interests and excitement of archeology with the public through outreach and educational programming. During this Nebraska Archeology Month, I am most excited for two activities in particular. First, with assistance from History Nebraska’s (HN) Educational Resources team, we will be providing a series of virtual “Piecing Together the Past” exhibit tours at the Nebraska History Museum (NHM), as well as several virtual show-and-tell opportunities with classes of 2nd graders statewide. Second, again teaming with HN’s Educational Resources staff along with the NHM, our Evening with an Archeologist on September 22 will highlight the same “Piecing Together the Past” exhibit, along with a tour of our archeological headquarters and hands-on activities. Each of these events allows me and the SAO team to engage with members of the public, without whom our work could not continue.

I am ecstatic to now be in Nebraska, leading our team of archeologists and architectural historians here at the SAO as we continue to exemplify the values of our agency and provide an inclusive environment to preserve, explore, interpret, and share with all Nebraska’s archeological resources. Please keep an eye out here on the HN blog, and on HN’s social media accounts, for updates on projects our staff is working on, unique and interesting finds from past projects, insights into the life of an archeologist, and events throughout this Nebraska Archeology Month!

Thank you for your continued support, and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns regarding Nebraska’s archeological record.

-Dave Williams, Nebraska State Archeologist

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