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Peter J. Pilles, Jr. – “The Legacy of New Deal Programs to Northern Arizona and Southwest Archaeology”

May 15, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST


This lecture is offered through Zoom. 

Beginning September 2023, AAHS monthly lectures will be held at the U of Arizona, ENR2, Room 107 and simultaneously broadcast through Zoom. 

This lecture is free and open to the public but you must pre-register at:  


During the 1930s, federal New Deal programs financed and supported a number of archaeological projects in northern Arizona. Within National Parks and Monuments, surveys and excavations were undertaken so that people could see archaeological sites and visitor centers were constructed to display and interpret archaeology for the public.  Several major expeditions by the Museum of Northern Arizona were also supported by New Deal programs. Excavations from 1933 to 1939 were directed by professional archaeologists employed by the Museum with laborers and students financed by the U.S. Civil Works Administration, Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and the Works Progress Administration. This work took place during a time when little was known about the prehistory of northern Arizona and the field of Southwestern archaeology was relatively new. The Museum’s excavations formed the basis for numerous publications by Harold S. Colton and his colleagues that greatly influenced the next 80 years of archaeological research and National Park Service interpretation. This presentation explores the relationship of archaeological research conducted by the Museum with federal New Deal Programs and its enduring legacy to the archaeological profession and the American public

Peter J. Pilles, Jr. received his BA degree from Arizona State University in 1967 and worked at Pueblo Grande Museum from 1965-1967, and the Museum of Northern Arizona from 1967 until 1975, when he became the Forest Archaeologist for the Coconino National Forest, his present position. He has presented over 70 papers and authored 50 publications that reflect his specialty areas of central and northern Arizona prehistory, rock art, ceramics, cultural resource management, and public archaeology. His most recent publications, coming out this year, are The Crane Site and V-Bar-V Ranch, co-authored with Ken Zoll, and The Legacy of New Deal Programs to the Archaeology of Northern Arizona, co-authored with Jeanne Sevens.   

Peter has been involved with various site development and interpretive plans and has been an advisor to the National Park Service, the State of Arizona, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Brazilian Institute for Cultural Heritage. An adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University, he has been an instructor in archaeological law enforcement for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and has taught courses in rock art conservation and management for the American Rock Art Research  Association, the Rock Art Special Interest Group of the Society for American Archaeology,  the  J. Paul Getty Conservation Institute, the Instituto Brasileiro do Patrimonio Cultural, and at the VI Simposio Internacional de Arte Rupestre, San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Northern Arizona. 

He has received awards from the Governor of Arizona, the Secretary of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, Tuzigoot National Monument, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, the American Rock Art Research Association, the Arizona Archaeology Advisory Commission, the Arizona Preservation Foundation, and the Hopi Tribe.

Suggested Reading:

Paul Fogette, 1996, Digging for Dollars: American Archaeology and the New Deal

Edwin A. Lyon, 1996, A New Deal for Southeastern Archaeology,

Kelly J. Pool and Mark L. Howe, in press, University of Utah Press,  New Deal Archaeology in the West 


May 15, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
Event Category:


Fran Maiuri