State Historic Preservation Office

Public Archaeology

Did you know that shipwrecks, unmarked human burials and other archaeological sites all fall under the jurisdiction of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)? Did you know that you can see historic caves, arrowheads and pottery shards, and even mastodon bones at Missouri's state historic sites?

One of the primary goals of the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office is to promote public education and awareness concerning the nature and role of archaeological research in helping preserve Missouri’s unique and valuable cultural heritage.

At some locations across Missouri, archaeological sites are being threatened, disturbed, and are sometimes completely destroyed by human activities that often proceed without an understanding of the lasting and often permanent consequences to Missouri’s irreplaceable cultural resources. These sites are important for understanding the lifeways and adaptations of past human societies that can only be accessed by studying the material remains of their day to day activities in as much as possible, undisturbed original contexts.  

It is important to build a strong and lasting awareness among the public about the ethical and proper treatment and ultimate disposition of archaeological remains. In having an understanding and appreciation for evidence of past cultural adaptation to changing human and natural environments, we can also better understand ourselves and how our society adapts to a changing world. To that end, the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office has partnered with organizations such as the Missouri Archaeological Society and others to promote projects and events aimed at increasing public knowledge and awareness about Missouri archaeology and the importance of preserving the legacy of Missouri’s unique archaeological heritage for future generations of Missourians.      

Missouri Archaeological Society Avocational Certification Program:    

The Archaeological Survey Training and Site Recordation program for Missouri was made possible by a federal matching grant to the City of Kansas City to be administered by the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office through its Certified Local Government grants program. The purpose of the grant was to create a pilot program involving the training of avocational archaeologists and other members of the interested public in the basic ethics, methods and techniques of modern anthropological archaeology and to encourage increased statewide site recordation efforts.

The Missouri Archaeological Society, in coordination with its partners, will take the lead role in planning and implementing the program that will be offered during the summer months on what may become a permanent basis. The goal is to have the participants take the knowledge and skills they’ve learned and use it to increase their site recording activities and also to teach those skills to others and encourage them to record sites as well.  

This program has three goals:

  1. the training of avocationals regarding responsible artifact collecting and site recordation;
  2. field surveys on public lands; and
  3. the certification of public participants for completion of this program and encouragement for ongoing site recordation activities.

Four sessions with a maximum of 16 students per class will last one week each. Each one-week session shall involve a sequence of instructional classroom activities, field survey, laboratory analysis, and recordation of identified archaeological resources. Certificates will be awarded to individuals upon completion of a five-day session.  

Contact:  

Missouri Archaeological Society
Missouri State University
901 S. National Ave.
Springfield, MO 65897  

Phone: (417) 836–3773

For information regarding other public archaeology programs:

For more information on reporting sites, please consult our Archaeological Site Recordation page.