The ARC maintains archaeological and anthropological collections from a variety of sources, including from sponsored professional excavations and items gifted or donated to the university.  Our focus as a repository is on North Texas and the surrounding region.  In accordance with our mission and the diverse nature of our constituency, the ARC maintains four main categories of collections based on the way they were generated and their intended purpose:

1. Gifted/Donated Collections

Donated collections that are the result of a material gift transaction by a private landowner, individual, corporation, organization, or through a bequest to the ARC, Department of Anthropology, or Southern Methodist University.

Gifted Objects

Small collections of fewer than 100 archaeological artifacts or items of anthropological interest donated to the university are treated as individual items.  Most of these items are under the control of the Department of Anthropology, but are in the possession of and curated by the ARC.

Bulk Archaeological Collections

Large collections of more than 100 artifacts, generally donated or gifted from avocational archaeologists.  Most collections contain items with limited (i.e., state- or county-level provenience) and are of limited use for research.

2. Research Collections

Research collections are those that the ARC holds, either in trust or not, from research and/or compliance archaeological projects governed by the Texas Antiquities Code.

2.1 Permitted collections are those resulting from work governed by the Texas Antiquities Code on land or under waters belonging to the State of Texas or a political subdivision of the State necessitating the issuance of a permit by the THC. This work can be conducted by an outside researcher, other state agency, cultural resources management firm or by THC personnel. Permitted collections form the bulk of the Texas state-associated collections.

2.2 Non-permitted collections are collections resulting from governed by the Texas Antiquities Code on land or under waters belonging to the State of Texas or a political subdivision of the State conducted by archaeologists without the issuance of a permit. These collections originate from work predating Antiquities Code permitting.

The bulk of our permitted and non-permitted collections derive from SMU RBS and ARP projects conducted between 1965 and 1993:

SMU River Basin Surveys and Archaeology Research Program

3. Non-THC Governed Collections

These collections are the result of faculty or graduate research outside of the State of Texas or from research projects that are not governed by the Texas Antiquities Code. These collections currently include materials from New Mexico, Louisiana, Guatemala, Ecuador, and the Middle East.

SMU Radiocarbon Laboratory

4. Comparative Reference Collections

Comparative collections are collections of type specimens or exemplar specimens used for reference and identification. Our comparative reference collections consist of the following:

Clisby–Sears Pollen Reference Collection

Southwest Ceramic Type Collection

Southeast Ceramic Type Collection

Historic Ceramics

Historic Bricks of North Texas