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Department of Anthropology

Jaguar Chief


researchers at CT scanner
Smithsonian Institution Bio-Imaging Research (SIBIR) Center

In 2015, the CT scanning facility at NMNH was established as the Smithsonian Institution Bio-Imaging Research (SIBIR) Center, which continues to increase and diffuse scientific knowledge through tomographic imaging and analysis of SI collections and beyond.

American Indian Program

Encourages research in areas of interest to Native Americans. Grants and internships are available to help native peoples visit the Museum and pursue their special interests.

Archeobiology Program
Program in Human Ecology and Archaeobiology

The program's research examines the biological and ecological impact ofhuman exploitation on plants and animals, and the reciprocal impact of this relationship on the course of human cultural evolution. The program targets periods of human history beginning with early attempts to domesticate plants and animals, and explores the ecological and cultural implications of the development and intensification of agricultural economies up through the emergence of early urban societies. The geographical focus of the program is global, with special emphases in North, Central, and South America, Western Asia, and Europe.

Alaskan native boy
Arctic Studies Center

In collaboration with Native peoples and arctic residents, the ASC studies northern peoples, cultures, biota, and ecosystems throughout the circumpolar region, with special attention to archaeology, ethnography, and natural history. Research projects include origins and relationships of arctic cultures, global change and human-environmental interactions, European-Native contacts and cultural transformations, and heritage preservation and community archaeology. ASC programs have pioneered new approaches in scholarship and public programs.

Australopithicus africanus
Human Origins Program

Focuses on the long history of ecosystem responses to human pressures and vice versa. Museum researchers are piecing together the climatic and ecological conditions that allowed humans to evolve.

Asian Cultural History Program

Investigates how humans in the Asia-Pacific region have influenced, adapted to, perceived, and used their environment through time.

Maya Potter
Latin American Archaeology

This program supports international collaboration in the acquisition and integration of paleoclimatic, ecological, ethnographic, and archeological evidence to reconstruct the impact of changing environments and cultural diffusion on precolumbian cultural development in South America and the Antilles. It has sponsored fieldwork in Brazil, Bolivia, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, multi-year seminars in Brazil and the Caribbean, workshops on ceramic analysis in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, and international symposia in the US, Chile, and Ecuador. International collaboration has been facilitated by visits of a month to a year by archeologists from all South American countries.

The Mexico Research Network repatriation ceremony

[Affiliated program] Promotes and facilitates innovative programs in research, education, and outreach focused on northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Repatriation Office

Works collaboratively with tribal representatives to determine the disposition of human remains and cultural objects.

Paleo-Indian Program

Paleo-Indian ProgramThe Paleo-Indian Program is dedicated to understanding Ancient Peoples of theAmericas in the context of their natural, cultural, and spiritual worlds.  In collaboration with interdisciplinary scientists, native peoples, students and teachers, avocational archeologists, and local residents, we explore the meaning of late Pleistocene-earlyHolocene archaeology through field and laboratoryinvestigations, public outreach and education, training of interns and fellows, and the development, study, and care of the nation’s premier Paleo-Indian collection of stone tools.  As modern humans expanded across the earth, the last continents to receive them were the Americas.  Smithsonian’s Paleo-Indian Program is a leading voice in the increase and diffusion of knowledge regarding these incredible stories of human adaptation and survival in times of dynamic environmental change.

Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology

The Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is an intensive four-week residential training program in museum research methods for graduate students in cultural anthropolgy. It uses the Smithsonian's anthropological resource as a "field site," giving students hands-on experience in collecting and analyzing data from collections in conjunction with formal training methods, all centered around individual research projects.


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