In small things forgotten: A tribute to archaeologist James Deetz

James Deetz was an archaeologist who was a pioneer on several fronts. He was one of the first to recognize the need to hear the voices of Native Americans and African Americans in archaeology and in historical interpretations. Click here for an 8 1/2-minute video tribute posted on December 9, 2022 by Giovanna Fregni.

This section of the Plymouth Colony Archive Project presents tributes to Prof. Deetz’s career, accomplishments and life’s work in archaeology. He was born on February 8, 1930 and passed away on November 25, 2000.

In the 1970s, he created the first living history museum in the US at Plymouth, MA (above) that replaced manikins with live interpreters. He was also one of the first to see the combined future of archaeology and technology, developed computer programs to aid in pottery identification, and was emphatic about the archaeology of ordinary people.

Deetz published many books, such as Invitation to Archaeology (1967) and In Small Things Forgotten (1977), which all contain his work, beliefs, and methodology as an archaeologist