Founded in 1939, the Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA) was the first center for the study of North Carolina archaeology. Serving the interests of students, scholars, and the general public, it is currently one of the leading institutes for archaeological teaching and research in the South.  Located within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, it provides support for faculty and students working not only in North Carolina, but also throughout the Americas and overseas. It is also the institutional home of the Curriculum in Archaeology.

With one of the nation’s finest collections of archaeological materials from the South, the RLA curates more than seven million artifacts along with more than 60,000 photographic negatives, photographs, and slides. Our facilities include general purpose laboratories, as well as an artifact processing laboratory (wet lab), paleoethnobotany lab, zooarchaeological lab, osteology lab, digital imaging lab, and geographic information systems (GIS) lab. We also house a library, darkroom, archives, and special collections.

Over the past 70 years, virtually all of the major discoveries in the understanding of North Carolina’s ancient past can be attributed to the RLA or to researchers trained there. As a leader in uncovering and interpreting North Carolina’s past, the RLA has given back to the community that it is committed to serving. The program has developed resources for teachers to help North Carolina public school students learn about Indian life that preceded the arrival of Europeans in this state.

Read more about the RLA’s history here.