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Connections through Collections

First-year undergraduates in “Why Art?” carefully handle a ceramic pipe in the shape of an antelope, possibly from Zambia or Zimbabwe (Fall 2023).

The Stanford University Archaeology Collections is Stanford's home for hands-on artifact study. SUAC promotes socially engaged, collections-based scholarship as a core disciplinary competency and mode of interdisciplinary intellectual inquiry. We model best practices in the ethical stewardship of cultural heritage collections on campus and beyond. We create "connections through collections,” celebrating the power of material culture to inspire innovative thinking and—most importantly—bring people together. 

SUAC is part of the Stanford Archaeology Center, an interdisciplinary hub focused on innovative research and education in archaeology and heritage. We support the Center's mission to understand the past and its contribution to contemporary and future worlds, to redress the colonial foundations of archaeology through an enduring commitment to ethics and to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to support excellence in archaeological research and foster dynamic links between scholars in disparate fields.

Acknowledging Our Place and Privilege

We honor Stanford University's land acknowledgment, a living testament developed in consultation with the local Muwekma Ohlone Tribe by the Native American Cultural Center, the Director of Heritage Services, and the President's Office. Stanford University is located on the ancestral territory of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. Consistent with our values of community and diversity, we work to acknowledge, honor, and make visible the university’s relationships to Ohlone and other Indigenous peoples connected with local lands and around the world. The Native American Cultural Center describes the story of the land where the main campus (including SUAC) resides, as well as information about different tribal members connected to our campus community.

SUAC is a privileged steward of diverse cultural legacies, which brings special responsibilities. We strive to make our work in solidarity with, and service to, BIPOC people and other stakeholders on campus and worldwide.

For more information about the archaeological, anthropological, and archival collections at the Stanford Archaeology Center, please visit our Collections pages or contact us. We regret that we are only able to answer inquiries regarding material in or relating to Stanford's collections and are unable to perform object identifications or valuations.

Campus Partnerships

SUAC collaborates with many allied groups and communities through research, outreach, grants, special collections projects, and other creative initiatives.

SUAC is part of the Stanford Archaeology Center, which manages these cultural heritage collections on behalf of the university. The Center aims to facilitate and encourage innovative, collaborative research in global material and cultural heritage.

Stanford Heritage Services is responsible for the campus archaeology program, transferring excavated materials to SUAC for permanent curation and management. Heritage Services documents, evaluates, and interprets Stanford’s diverse heritage resources: archaeological sites, historic buildings, structures, and landscapes.

We partner with the Native American Cultural Center to support its mission of helping American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Indigenous Pacific Islanders on campus and beyond to realize goals and prepare for the future. SUAC strives to be an accessible resource for research, education, and representation by and for indigenous people. 

SUAC and at the Cantor Center both originated in the Stanford family's personal collections and the first University Museum. Today, these institutions are united by historic connections and contemporary goals of cultural stewardship and curatorial excellence.

Stanford University Libraries, including the University Archives, allies with SUAC in innovative academic collaborations. These initiatives range from reconnecting library and material culture collections through exhibition to collaborating in the development of technologies for digitization and dissemination.