Have you ever wondered what it's like to be an archaeologist? What is archaeology? What do archaeologists do?

Archaeology is all about people past and present, and to celebrate Archaeology Week 2023 we're inviting you to come and connect with the people of the past, and to piece together some of their stories through clues and treasures they've left behind. 

Community day

Archaeology Week 2023

Community day


Archaeology is all about putting together clues to understand the past. Learn about the methods and technology the experts use to solve puzzles and discover how people used to live, what they ate and what tools they used. Hear talks by archaeologists and experience hands on activities such as sorting shell and bone, reconstructing pottery vessels, artefact analysis and so much more! 

Be an archaeologist for the day!

Be an archaeologist for the day!

New Zealand Archaeology Week is held annually to raise awareness and highlight the importance of protecting our archaeological heritage and to promote the work of New Zealand's archaeologists. 

Dig deeper

Our team have put together a series of quick original videos for you to enjoy at home. 

Hydria Vase Collection of the Mackelvie Trust Board, Auckland, on loan to Auckland War Memorial Museum. 29701

Dig deeper

What is Archaeology? by Toni-Maree Rowe

Museum volunteer Toni-Maree has worked as an archaeologist in Aotearoa and the UK and has put together the following video for Archaeology Week explaining what archaeology is and what archaeology is present in Aotearoa. 

Computer-based Technology & Archaeology by Matthew Barrett 

This short video describes how modern computer-based technologies are helping archaeologists investigate the past, from digital models of the landscape for identifying archaeological features to virtual simulations for testing out ideas about the past.

+About Matthew Barrett

Matthew Barrett is an archaeologist and doctoral researcher at the University of Auckland. Matt's research uses computer simulation to explore ideas about stone artefacts and past human behaviour in different parts of the world. He is particularly interested in the archaeology of Aotearoa and Australia, and has also completed fieldwork in Egypt.

Ancient DNA by Natalie Remedios

Ancient DNA is a useful tool for studying the past. DNA can be extracted from animal bone hundreds and thousands of years old allowing archaeologists to discover what species were present in the past from small fragments of bone recovered from archaeological sites. Check out the video to see how scientists extract ancient DNA from bone and teeth and how it can help archaeologists.

+About Natalie Remedios

Dr Natalie Remedios is Senior Technician in the Palaeomolecular Anthropology Laboratory at the University of Auckland. Her work focuses on the analysis of ancient DNA from animal bone.

Excavations on Ōtata Island by Emma Ash

During the past two summers archaeologists from Auckland Museum have been working out on Ōtata Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Excavations have revealed a massive amount of shell, bone and stone which hold clues to how Māori lived hundreds of years ago and what they ate, but also what the environment used to look like.  

+About Emma Ash

Emma Ash is Associate Curator, Archaeology at Auckland Museum. In addition to museum curation her interests include reconstructing past environments using archaeological data and the application of archaeology to issues such as climate change and conservation.

Coprolites Just Got Real by Deirdre Harrison

Coprolites (or fossilized poo) preserved in archaeological sites hold important information about people and animals in the past, such as what they ate and drank and gut health. Check out this short video to learn more about what coprolites are and why they are important to archaeologists.

+About Deirdre Harrison

Deirdre Harrison is the Collection Manager in the Archaeology Department at Auckland Museum. She has a background in Archaeology, Classics and Chemistry.

Kurī in Aotearoa by Patricia Pillay 

When the Polynesian ancestors of Māori arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand, they brought their dogs with them. Patricia looks at these close relationships between dogs and humans by studying dog teeth from North Island archaeological sites which can offer clues into the life of these individuals and changes in the environments they experienced in the past. The Māori kurī has an important place in further understanding the evolving relationship between dogs and humans, further contributing to understanding the world's oldest animal domesticate on islands in the Pacific and the landscape they shared with humans in the past.

+About Patricia Pillay

Patricia is a zooarchaeologist and postgraduate student at the University of Auckland. She is passionate about human-animal relationships, and her research focuses on extinctions, conservation, and heritage management. 

Pā sites in Aotearoa by Louise Furey

With over 1000 identified sites in Aotearoa, pā could be the most recogniseable archaeological feature on our country's landscape. In this talk Louise Furey, Curator of Archaeology explores what physical features of the pā remain and what they can teach us about the people who interacted with them. 

+About Louise Furey

Louise Furey is the Curator of Archaeology at Auckland Museum and is responsible for Māori archaeological collections, assemblages from excavated Auckland historic sites, Pacific archaeological collections, and the rest of the world archaeological material from Egypt, Europe, Asia, North and South America. Her research interests are around Māori material culture, traditional Māori gardening, and the sites and material culture of the first 200 years after Polynesians arrived in Aotearoa.​

Waipapa Rock Art by Deirdre Harrison

Rock art is one of the oldest forms of art in the world, and New Zealand boasts a long and widespread rock art tradition. In this talk Deirdre Harrison explores the features of rock art, and some fascinating finds from around Aotearoa - some of which are in the Museum collection today. 

+About Deirdre Harrison

Deirdre Harrison is the Collection Manager in the Archaeology Department at Auckland Museum. She has a background in Archaeology, Classics and Chemistry.

More archaeology stories from the Museum 

Fancy a long read? Browse our selection of archaeology stories from around the Museum