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Town Creek Excavation Committee (1937) at Town Creek Indian Mound, today a North Carolina State Historic Site. Dr. James Bullit is pictured on the far left.

Among its many collections, the Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA) curates the James Bell Bullitt Collection of Paleolithic artifacts and associated travel journal and photographs. Dr. Bullitt was a professor of histology and pathology at UNC’s School of Medicine, but he had a long-standing interest in archaeology, even practicing as an avocational archaeologist. In 1928 and 1929, he traveled to Europe to visit numerous archaeological sites, mostly from the Paleolithic era, dating roughly between 50,000 and 12,000 years ago in France, Germany, England, Switzerland, and Spain. Bullitt brought the artifacts he collected on his travels home with him to Chapel Hill and later donated them to the RLA. Check out the links below to learn more about Dr. Bullitt, his travels, and the collection.

Travel Journal


James Bell Bullitt in Europe StoryMap NEW!

Explore Europe alongside Dr. Bullitt with the RLA’s latest StoryMap creation—James Bell Bullitt in Europe. This story map details his trip through Europe, showing the various sites and towns he visited and recorded in his journal, as well as the photographs he took while traveling. The Archaeological Tour, Class Trips, and Final Travels take you along on Dr. Bullitt’s journey chronologically, detailing what he did at each stop using excerpts from his journal entries and showing photographs he took on his trip. These are supplemented by numerous modern photographs. Where possible, links are provided which let you explore the hotels Dr. Bullitt stayed in and the historic sites he visited.


Many thanks to Colleen Betti, a graduate student in archaeology who created this website, and Sepideh Saeedi, who collated much of the information presented here and designed a preliminary website for the Bullitt Collection as part of a Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate Program offered through UNC’s Carolina Digital Humanities.