Research Laboratories of Archaeology

Who We Are

    Founded in 1939, the Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA) was the first center for the study of North Carolina archaeology.  Serving the interests of students, scholars, and the general public, it is currently one of the leading institutes for archaeological teaching and research in the South.  Located within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's College of Arts and Sciences, it provides support for faculty and students working not only in North Carolina, but also throughout the Americas and overseas.

    With one of the nation's finest collections of archaeological materials from the South, the RLA curates more than seven million artifacts along with more than 60,000 photographic negatives, photographs, and slides. Over the past 70 years, virtually all of the major discoveries in the understanding of North Carolina's ancient past can be attributed to the RLA or to researchers trained there.

    As a leader in uncovering and interpreting North Carolina's past, the RLA has given back to the community that it is committed to serving.  The program has developed resources for teachers to help North Carolina public school students learn about Indian life that preceded the arrival of Europeans in this state.  The RLA also once maintained exhibits on North Carolina archaeology which were open to the public and were regularly visited by school groups; however, in 1973 this exhibit space was lost and has not yet been replaced.

Some Recent Accomplishments of RLA Staff

  • Produced Excavating Occaneechi Town, an award-winning CD-ROM (University of North Carolina Press, 1998);
  • Published Time Before History, an overview of North Carolina's ancient Indian cultures as seen through archaeology (University of North Carolina Press,1999);
  • Published Intrigue of the Past: North Carolina's First Peoples, a collection of lesson plans on archaeology and Indian History for 4th through 8th grade classrooms; and
  • Produced web-based course materials on archaeology for North Carolina K- 12 teachers, available through Learn NC (