Reuniting Archaeology and Archives through the Smithsonian Institution’s Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki Papers and Artifacts Project

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Molly Kamph


The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History recently conducted a two-year project to process and connect the archives and artifacts of archaeologists Ralph and Rose Solecki, most famous for their work at the sites of Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq. Through a collaboration between the archivally-focused National Anthropological Archives and the object-focused Department of Anthropology collections management group, the Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki Papers and Artifacts Project sought to set an example for archaeological collections and archives stewardship by preserving the association between archaeological specimens and archival records through an integrative methodology of archival processing and specimen cataloging to increase their value to future researchers. Further, the project provides a case study intended to contribute to interdisciplinary conversations about the enduring legacy of archaeologists and their collections within archives and museums through collaborative collections and archives management.


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