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What is The Archaeological Conservancy?

The Archaeological Conservancy is the only national, nonprofit organization that identifies, acquires, and preserves the most significant archaeological sites in the United States. Since its beginning in 1980, the Conservancy has preserved more than 465 sites across the nation, ranging in age from the earliest habitation sites in North America to a 19th-century frontier army post. We are building a national system of archaeological preserves to ensure the survival of our irreplaceable cultural heritage.

Conservancy Staff | Conservancy Board Member Bios

Why save archaeological sites?

The ancient people of North America made no written records of their cultures. Clues that might someday solve the mysteries of prehistoric America are still missing, and when a ruin is destroyed by looters, or leveled for a shopping center, precious information is lost. By permanently preserving important cultural sites, the Conservancy ensures they will be available for future generations to study and enjoy.

Over the past few decades, the knowledge and methods of modern archaeologists have advanced tremendously. Today researchers use technologies such as tree-ring dating, radiocarbon dating, archaeomagnetic dating, obsidian hydration dating, pollen analysis, and trace-element analysis to glean information from the archaeological record. Few of these technologies existed 50 years ago. For this reason, it’s important that we keep a significant portion of raw data in the ground, where future archaeologists with even more advanced knowledge and technologies will have access to it.

What sites does the Conservancy Own?

Since its beginning in 1980, the Conservancy has acquired more than 465 endangered sites in 43 states across America. These preserves range in size from a few acres to more than 1,000 acres. They include the earliest habitation sites in North America, a 19th-century frontier army post, and nearly every major cultural period in between.

Examples of Conservancy preserves include California’s Borax Lake site, which encompasses 11,000 years of human occupation; the first mission of Father Kino, as well as several important Sinagua and Hohokam ruins in Arizona; important Caddo Indian sites in Texas and Oklahoma; and in Georgia, key cultural locales of the region’s first Indians.

And the list goes on: several ancient Indian villages in Florida; Mississippian sites in Arkansas and Missouri, at least two of which Hernando de Soto visited in 1541; villages of the eastern lakeshore peoples in Michigan; ancestral sites of New Mexico’s Pueblo people; in Colorado, Yellowjacket and Mud Springs Pueblos–the two largest ruins of the Mesa Verde culture; and in the Northeast, two Paleo-Indian sites and a Seneca Iroquois village.

Some Conservancy sites have been incorporated into public parks such as Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, Parkin Archeological State Park in Arkansas, and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ohio.

Learn more about the Conservancy’s latest acquisitions

How does the Conservancy raise funds?

Funds from the Conservancy come from membership dues, individual contributions, corporations and foundations. Gifts and bequests of money, land, and securities are fully tax deductible under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Planned giving provides donors with substantial tax deductions and a variety of beneficiary possibilities. For more information, call Mark Michel at (505) 266-1540.