Archaeology is the study of past human cultures, based on the material remains they left behind. Archaeological research sheds light on human relationships with the environment and reveals the ways in which cultures have changed through time. The Museum Anthropology Department houses the most important archaeological collections for understanding prehistoric cultural change in south-central coastal California, especially the Santa Barbara Channel region.
The core of the archaeological collections consists of artifacts, faunal remains, and other materials from field surveys and excavation on the Northern Channel Islands, Santa Barbara mainland coast, and adjacent back country by David Banks Rogers (curator 1923-1938) and Phil C. Orr (curator 1938-1968). D. Travis Hudson (curator 1973-1985) added marine finds, archaeoastronomy investigations, and material culture studies. John R. Johnson (curator 1986-present) has built a good comparative faunal collection, and the department serves as a repository for curation of archaeological material from Channel Islands National Park, Los Padres National Forest, and various cultural resource management projects.