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MSU Consortium for Archaeological Research

The Michigan State University Consortium for Archaeological Research (CAR) was founded in 1995 as a joint endeavor of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, the College of Social Science, and the College of Arts and Letters. The initial institutional troika was joined by the Office of Outreach and Engagement during 2005. The immediate goal of the collaboration was to bring together faculty from related disciplines in archaeology, ancient studies, physical anthropology, paleoenvironmental change, and history with common and overlapping research interests and facilities needs. The overarching mission of CAR “is dedicated to research and dissemination of knowledge about past human societies through the use of written documentation and the material remains of past human behavior.”

This common goal was realized with the assignment of substantial space in McDonel Hall jointly administered by the participating units, including a collections repository, research laboratories, faculty offices, support facilities including computer labs and archival space for maps, records, and photo documentation, as well as teaching and seminar spaces. The consolidation of faculty, students, collections, and instructional facilities into a single location has created a critical mass of highly productive archaeological scholars with research interests in North America, Mesoamerica, Europe, and Africa across a broad variety of contemporary research topics and time periods. Consortium archaeologists find common interest in topics such as hunting and gathering adaptations, palaeo-environmental change, the transition to food production, the organization of state level societies, processes of culture contact, and the mortuary behavior, biology and nutrition of past populations. The more than a dozen participating CAR faculty are, periodically, augmented by visiting pre- and post-Doctoral fellows from the United States and abroad, which most recently included a Fulbright Fellow.

The MSU Museum Division of Anthropology continues to play a significant role in CAR, through close partnership with the Department of Anthropology. Museum staff including Associate Director and Curator of Anthropology William Lovis, Assistant Curator for Great Lakes Archaeology Jodie O’Gorman, as well as a host of Adjunct Faculty and Research Associates participate directly in the unit at a variety of levels. The results of more than four decades of MSU archaeological research are housed at CAR, including critical artifact collections and their associated documentation, as well as teaching collections regularly used for archaeological classes in several teaching departments. The research collections are employed for faculty and graduate student research, and are accessible to visiting scholars by arrangement. With a clear focus on Michigan’s past, CAR houses key collections from northern Michigan, the Grand River Valley, and the Saginaw River Valley, as well as from a range of intensively investigated individual archaeological sites in some cases as old as 10,000 years but also as recent as the nineteenth century. Results of faculty and student research are disseminated as books, research monographs, book chapters and journal articles.

The Consortium for Archaeological Research is located on East Shaw Lane, in the east wing of McDonel Hall on the campus of Michigan State University.