What We Do

3 archaeologists working on a snowy day; the left archeologist takes notes while the archeologist at center uses a GPS unit mounted on a pole, while the other holds a magnetic susceptibility meter in the air.

The Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC) offers archeological expertise and innovative research methods to support the NPS and partners in documenting, investigating, and interpreting cultural resources. Our mission is to preserve and protect heritage assets while advancing understanding of human history and behavior.

One of our central roles is to provide technical assistance for archeological assessments under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and other relevant laws. We conduct inventory and evaluation of archeology in proposed project impact zones, then provide technical reporting and assessments as needed for the 106 process.

We also design and conduct archeological research to help partners develop richer historic interpretations. MWAC staff employ a variety of tools to support research and management of archeological and historic resources across the mid-continent.

How can MWAC help you? Contact us to learn more.
Archeologist kneels in a partially excavated test unit with stone walls in the background.

Traditional Archeological Practice

MWAC staff design and conduct pedestrian and shovel-test inventories, evaluative testing, and data recovery excavations. We work closely with unit and project managers to determine the appropriate course of action and best practices for each situation.
Archeologist uses a handheld magnetic gradiometer to survey a harvested corn field.

Geophysical Inventory

We offer geophysical data collection services including magnetic gradiometry, ground-penetrating radar, resistance, conductivity, and magnetic susceptibility to managers and researchers looking for cost-effective and non-invasive ways to identify archeological features.
Terrestrial laser scanner on a tripod in an interior museum exhibit space

3D Terrestrial Laser Scanning

MWAC applies this technology to preserve an analytical model of historic structures, landscape features, and large interior spaces. High-resolution models created through this process are accurate and scalable, preserving key information about threatened resources for future analyses.
Model of a hearth feature with rocks eroding from a slope made using photogrammetry. A vertical gray stripe in the middle shows the model without the color photo overlay shown on the right and left.


Another method for preserving high resolution and scalable models of smaller items for long-term digital preservation, photogrammetry is a useful tool for virtual preservation and sharing of artifacts.
Archeologist uses a handheld GPS to map a partial stone wall next to where she stands. She is surrounded by tall grass and shrubs with hills in the distance.

Geographic Information Systems

MWAC staff create and maintain geospatial databases, provide data management services, and conduct a variety of geospatial analyses.
An archeologist sets up a robotic total station on a tripod in a grassy field while four other crew members hold equipment in the background. Green, rolling hills are in the distance.


We provide mapping services with robotic surveying instruments as well as mapping- and survey-grade GNSS units.
Six people, all seated or kneeling, carefully dig in a square excavation block surrounded by tools and tarps. Two other individuals stand at the edge of the square block.


MWAC staff share their expertise with individuals and communities. Examples range from orientation and practice with new survey equipment to immersive introduction to Section 106-based consultation and monitoring.

Last updated: August 4, 2020