Discover Delaware archaeology through a variety of fascinating exhibits and programs!
Archaeology, the study of previous peoples, civilizations, and their lifeways through scientific analysis of remaining artifacts, is the primary focus of this museum.
Our exhibit encompasses 12,000 years worth of archaeological history in the State of Delaware. The artifacts date from the last ice age in North America to the 20th century. The exhibited artifacts range from projectile points commonly known as “arrowheads” or “spear points,” ceramics and other stone and bone tools to glass and personal objects used in Delaware during the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
The Delaware Archaeology Museum examines the process of archaeology. This involves a great deal more than digging. Archaeology involves careful planning and the development of questions about the human past. Archaeologists then set about answering these questions by examining places containing the remains of our past, also known as “sites.” In addition to layers of earth that form the sites where archaeologists dig, sites also contain artifacts. Artifacts are tangible material remains that people have left behind such as pottery sherds, stone flakes, broken window glass, and discarded oyster shell. To understand the process of archaeological excavation, the museum includes an in-house simulated excavation pit with a hands-on educational program available by appointment to interested groups.
Because archaeology requires the integration of many disciplines, our exhibits also present the multi-faceted approach to the study of the human past that archaeology entails. This includes the findings of anthropologists, osteologists (bone analysts), geologists, physical anthropologists, botanists, and many other scientific disciplines used in the identification and analysis of the archaeological record.
In addition to archaeological methods, an overview of Delaware’s Native American history forms a central part of the museum’s exhibits. Lifeways, society and environment used by early native peoples are experienced through extensive artifact displays. The exhibits include early stone (or lithic) tools used for fishing, hunting, woodworking and home building as well as pottery, smoking pipes and other implements used during their generally healthy and productive lives.
Lithic tools were essential parts of the everyday lives of Delaware’s Native Americans. Their use helped their creators survivie in their environments. To provide a sense of the importance of these tools and their uses, special programs are available focusing on early hunting tools and techniques. These programs include the demonstration of the famed atlatl, an early spear throwing device that enabled hunters to access smaller and faster wild game. The manufacturing of stone tools is also closely reviewed. The hand production of stone tools or flintknapping in an authentic fashion is fascinating and enjoyed by all ages. With the utilization of stone hammers, deer antler hammers, and pressure flaking devices, a large stone core is strategically chipped away flake by flake until the desired tool is achieved in the form of an arrowhead, scraper, or knife.
Lifeways of later peoples immigrating to Delaware are also examined through historical archaeology. Historical archaeologists use information from excavations and from historical documents to understand the past. Sites discussed include those occupied by Europeans and African-Americans and include colonial, military, maritime, and industrial sites. Although historical archaeologists use information from written documents, archaeology is sometimes the only way to learn about the lives of many people.
The Delaware Archaeology Museum allows visitors to view step by step the subtle and sometimes enormous changes that have taken place in Delaware’s peoples over the millennia. Come explore this rich history!
During May of every year, the State of Delaware celebrates “Archaeology Month”. Hosted by the Delaware Archaeology Forum, professional archaeologists and state agencies, this month long, statewide celebration gives the public an opportunity to learn about current archaeological information. The Delaware Archaeology Museum hosts events during the first weekend of May in conjunction with the “Old Dover Days” celebration. For additional information on The Delaware Archaeology Museum, you may email or call (302) 739-3260. For more information on Archaeology Month events, contact the Delaware Archaeology Museum at (302) 739-3260 or you may check out the web site.