New Jersey's archaeological heritage is represented in a variety of forms, including sites relating to the aboriginal, colonial, and more recent settlement of the State. These sites represent thousands of years of human occupation. Since many, if not most, of these sites exist entirely without historical documentation, they contain the only evidence that we shall ever have about much of our cultural heritage. They are truly nonrenewable resources.
Regrettably, thousands of these sites have been lost through modern development, careless excavation, and acts of outright vandalism. These threats to our archaeological heritage continue to the present. The Archaeological Society of New Jersey is working to conserve and record our rich cultural heritage.
Archaeology is the scientific study of human behavior by means of the careful recovery and analysis of physical evidence that relates to past human activities. The material remains, which make up archaeological evidence, include artifacts, cultural features, skeletal remains, and similar materials. Archaeological research can confirm, modify, or refine our understanding of the past as portrayed in historical literature and contribute to a fuller appreciation of our own culture.
The Archaeological Society of New Jersey was organized November 12, 1931, to promote and encourage the study of historic and prehistoric archaeology, especially in New Jersey. Its main purposes are to support preservation of important archaeological sites and artifacts, and to assist and encourage their investigation and interpretation by approved professional methods; to promote the establishment of local archaeological organizations; and to record and publish archaeological information.
The Society holds four regular meetings each year in January, March, May, and October, at which guest speakers lecture on archaeological topics and members talk on subjects of local interest, and exhibit artifacts from their collections. Contact is maintained with professional archaeologists working in the state, and they are encouraged to make provisions for participation by Society members in their field and laboratory activities.
Two publications are issued by the Society; the Bulletin with scientific articles by professionals and amateurs, and the Newsletter with notes of current activities of archaeological interest. Both are distributed to all members without charge. From time to time, various research reports are also issued.
At its headquarters, the Society maintains a reference library of several hundred books and journals, which members may utilize.
Chapters in different parts of the state hold regular meetings, engage in fieldwork, register collections and publish on their activities. Their policies are in accord with Society objectives.
In 1934, the Archaeological Society of New Jersey was one of four founding members to organize the Eastern States Archaeological Federation, which carries out interstate projects east of the Mississippi River. Membership now includes more than twenty eastern states and Canadian provinces. Our members receive its publication and may attend its meetings.
An applicant for membership need not be a professional archaeologist or a scholar. The Society is essentially an organization of amateurs and is designed to meet the interests and needs of the general public. It seeks the participation of all who are interested in the intelligent conservation and greater understanding of the archaeology of New Jersey.