Prehistoric Native American Collection

Please note: We currently have a moratorium on all prehistoric remains and will not be allowing research on these remains

The Maxwell Museum’s Laboratory of Human Osteology houses a large number of skeletal remains from prehistoric Native American sites in New Mexico and surrounding regions. Many of these remains are stored at the Maxwell on behalf of the Museum of New Mexico. The majority of the remaining individuals were excavated by University of New Mexico archaeologists, physical anthropologists, and/or field school personnel prior to 1960. Archaeological collections include both prehistoric and historic components. 

All of our prehistoric Native American remains have been registered per NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) legislation. The Laboratory of Human Osteology is in compliance with NAGPRA and has completed several repatriations for Native American groups in New Mexico. The prehistoric collections are kept in the laboratory repository, which is protected by a locked door and an alarm system. Remains are always treated with the utmost respect and care, and kept in archival boxes. Photography of prehistoric remains is not permitted under any circumstances.

For more information on the prehistoric remains and their use in research, please contact us. To conduct research on the collection, you must first obtain permission from the Lab Manager of Human Osteology and the Collections Committee, and submit a request following the research request form.

We have resumed our Body Donation program. Please contact the lab if you have any questions.


Please check here for updates or call 505-277-3535 for more information.

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