Archaeological Research Program

Intrepid archaeologists rest against a pickup after a long day. River rafting in the pursuit of archaeology.

Our Mission

The Archaeological Research Program at California State University, Chico has an educational mission, providing an interdisciplinary approach to archaeological training and problem-oriented research for Anthropology Department graduate and upper division undergraduate students. In meeting this mission, the Program’s professional staff and visiting scholars provide training in non-traditional settings, in the field or in the lab, with hands-on experience in archaeology.

Our Services

Organized as a nonprofit arm of the CSU, Chico Research Foundation, ARP seeks and executes contracts for professional services in the cultural resources field. The ARP professional services include:

  • Professional archaeological reconnaissance, testing, and mitigation/data recovery on historic and prehistoric sites
  • Historical architecture and documentary research
  • Native American consultation and traditional use evaluations
  • Critical program review and regulatory compliance consultation (NEPA, CEQA)
  • Construction monitoring
  • Sensitivity studies using non-invasive techniques
  • Significance determinations
  • Professional, academic-quality analyses and technical report writing

Our Facilities

Archaeology Lab

Photo of the archaeology lab.The Archaeology Lab is the hub of all activity for the Archaeological Research Program. Artifacts and samples recovered from the field are brought to the lab for cleaning, sorting, cataloging, analyzing, and preparation for long-term storage. About 2,000 square feet of laboratory and work space is dedicated to these tasks alone. Each semester, university courses are held in the lab, making it a center for both research and academic learning.


Curation Facility

Technician inspects pottery artifacts in a drawer.The Archaeological Curation Facility provides long term curation and records management with an ongoing effort to meet or exceeding Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines outlined under 36 CFR 79. It houses over 310 collections including artifacts, reports of findings, photographs, and field notes from archaeological investigations located throughout North-central and Northeastern California. The collections are available to CSUC faculty, staff, and students, and to qualified off-campus researchers interested in comparative analysis.

Zooarchaeology Lab

Cabinet display of mammalian skulls.The Zooarchaeology Laboratory, under the direction of Dr. Frank Bayham, houses over 900 prepared animal skeletons available for comparative analysis and species identification. Researchers at the lab focus on the identification and analysis of animal remains from archaeological sites in order to reconstruct past environments, the economics of animal exploitation, and ancient human-environment relationships. The Lab provides hands-on training to CSUC Anthropology, Biology, and Ecology students as well as those in other departments.

Dental Increment Lab

Technician consults a computer in the Dental Increment Lab.The Dental Increment Lab is headed by Adjunct Faculty Dr. Christopher O’Brien, Forest Archaeologist for the Lassen National Forest. Dental Increment Analysis is a technique based on the study of annuli, tree ringlike growth rings found in the teeth of large-bodied animals. By preparing the tooth specimen and examining it under a microscope, the annuli reveal both the age of the animal at death and the season of death (dark annuli represent winter, light annuli spring-summer). This information can be used to reconstruct the season of use of archaeological sites, to characterize the properties of game herds exploited by prehistoric hunters, and even to evaluate predator-prey dynamics expressed in the relationship between ancient human hunters and the game that they hunted.

Computer Research and Applications

Program activity has allowed ARP to acquire top-of-the-line computer stations, scanners, printers, CD R/W, and one large format (48x60”) and two small format (24x36” and 12x12”) digitizing tablets. Our software packages include AutoCAD r14 for CAD mapping and PC ArcInfo and ArcView for GIS with MS Access, dBaseWin, and Paradox databases. The ARP is also equipped with Terrain Navigator software and digitized USGS topographic quadrangle maps used in conjunction with field GPS units. The Lab’s Computer Specialist is ESRI and ACAD certified and experienced in preparing detailed CAD drawings and in GIS data entry and analysis, and has trained a number of senior undergraduate and graduate students in computer specializations. For students seeking professional careers, computer skills have proven to be very transferable skills.

SCARCE: Superior California Archaeological Research Cooperative Expeditions

Archaeologists sift for small remains in the field.In meeting our educational mission, each semester the Archaeology Laboratory conducts classes in field and laboratory archaeology. Principal among these classes is the summer field school, consisting of a multi-week outdoor program using both lecture and hands-on experience to convey to enrolled students the skills necessary for a career in professional archaeology. The summer and semester programs are supported by a variety of cooperative agreements between the Lab and Federal and State agencies. The cooperative agreements create important links between CSUC and the agencies, and between the agencies themselves, who have expressed an interest in sharing research goals and management practices. The Archaeology Lab has proposed an umbrella organization entitled “Superior California Archaeological Research Cooperative Expeditions” (SCARCE) which embodies the goal of common research and management themes via these and similar cooperative agreements.

Contact Us

By mail:

Archaeological Research Program Department of Anthropology California State University, Chico 400 W. First Street Chico, CA 95929-0401

By phone:

(530) 898-4360