SunWatch

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Child prairie grassAre you a researcher or a student interested in working with the SunWatch collection? Are you a master gardener looking for a public project to work on? Are you interested in helping restore the lands around SunWatch to a Native Prairie? Are you interested in helping to monitor our Prairie restoration program and the wildlife that inhabit the prairie?

SunWatch Museum Collection

The artifacts recovered during the Dayton Society of Natural History’s excavations at SunWatch are curated in the Anthropology Department at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton. The Anthropology Department curates a highly diverse collection of objects numbering well over 1,400,000 items, including the SunWatch material. The majority of the collection is archaeological in nature and includes stone tools, pottery, and organic materials collected during the Museum's five decades of archaeological research in the Miami Valley area. Other items in the Anthropology Collection include materials made and used by American Indian peoples across what we now call the United States, as well as other objects from around the world.

Child prairie grassWe curate items that have been excavated during local excavations, as well as items that have been donated by individuals that they obtained through travel, military service, missionary work, business partnerships, and items that have been handed down for generations within a family. We do not have all areas of the world represented equally in our collection and there is great variety in what types of objects we have from one region to the next. Our collection includes clothing, musical instruments, weapons, jewelry, tools, ornaments, and other types of materials. We serve as a permanent repository for the community, reflecting the continually changing
interests and ethnicity of our residents.

Excavation by the Dayton Society of Natural History includes work at the Late Woodland Lichliter site in Trotwood, Ohio, the Late Prehistoric SunWatch/Incinerator site in Dayton, the Middle Woodland Purdom Works in Greene County, Ohio, and the Late Prehistoric site 33 My 127, also in Dayton. We have also conducted many smaller salvage excavations when prehistoric materials have been inadvertently unearthed or were discovered during construction activities or other projects.

Child prairie grassThe Late Prehistoric period (A.D. 1000 – 1650) is the time period of greatest research interest to our department and there are few other archaeologists who actively study this period in Ohio. The Dayton Society of Natural History is best known to the public for our lengthy excavations at the Incinerator/SunWatch site, although we have spent many years excavating other prehistoric sites as well. We have occasionally returned to SunWatch to re-excavate certain portions of the site to resolve specific unanswered research questions, most notably in 2005 with a field school crew from The Ohio State University under the guidance of Dr. Robert Cook. In general, our excavations at SunWatch have been completed for the foreseeable future. Significant portions of the site have been left unexcavated for future generations who may be able to recover new information with technology that we cannot yet predict or imagine. Our research at SunWatch and at other sites has already been aided substantially with non-destructive and non-invasive geophysical technology, such as electrical resistance and magnetometry.

Our current excavations are a long-term investigation of a site known as “33 My 127.” This site was built by the same culture that occupied SunWatch Indian Village and dates to approximately the same time period (circa 600-800 years old). It is a smaller habitation site and differs in some significant ways from SunWatch. Our investigations at 33 My 127 allow us to contrast our findings there with those of SunWatch.

If you are a professional archaeologist or student interested in using the collections held by the Dayton Society of Natural History for a research project, or a museum professional or student interested in utilizing some of the collection for an exhibit, or for any other questions related to our collections please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

For more information, please call 937-268-8199.