Avocational Archaeology

The Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Inc. (SPA) - Pennsylvania's organization for avocational archaeologists was organized in 1929 to:

  • Promote the study of the prehistoric and historic archaeological resources of Pennsylvania and neighboring states
  • Encourage scientific research and discourage exploration which is unscientific or irresponsible in intent or practice
  • Promote the conservation of archaeological sites, artifacts, and information
  • Encourage the establishment and maintenance of sources of archaeological information such as museums, societies, and educational programs
  • Promote the dissemination of archaeological knowledge by means of publications and forums
  • Foster the exchange of information between the professional and the avocational archaeologist

A map of active society chapters is available your reference.

Pennsylvania Archaeologist - a semi-annual journal published by the SPA is included with your SPA membership. Old issues are available for purchase from the SPA website.

Collecting Artifacts

Many Pennsylvanians own archaeological collections. Some citizens consider themselves amateur archaeologists who search for and find Native American or Colonial Period artifacts. Others simply live on properties where professional archaeologists conduct investigations to identify previous sites of human activity before new development occurs. In either case, collections that preserve detailed information about where objects were discovered and what types of artifacts were found are extremely important. Archaeological collections often represent the only surviving evidence of Pennsylvania's prehistory and history and can provide new information about where, when, and how people lived in the past. You can preserve this information by keeping good records and recording the sites you find.


Each artifact is labeled and bagged according to where it was found.

Recording Sites

It is important to preserve information on where prehistoric people lived and how they used the resources distributed across the landscape. In addition, when locations and artifacts are recorded with the Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey (PASS), these sites are more likely to be considered in the planning of state and federal projects and therefore more likely to be protected. For information on how to submit your site for listing in the Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey (PASS) files, visit our page on Recording Sites.


School-aged volunteers learn about archaeology with hands on experience.