Unearthing Detroit Project

img022Unearthing Detroit is a project directed by Krysta Ryzewski that focuses on the urban historical archaeology collections housed in the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology at Wayne State University and involves a combination of academic research and public archaeology. The project’s research and outreach team is comprised of archaeology faculty and students from Wayne State’s Department of Anthropology, as well as a number of volunteers from the local community.

Visit our project and Facebook pages for updates and more info about the project’s current activities and results.

Background and Objectives

Unearthing Detroit began in 2013 with a return to the extensive Renaissance Center collections (excavated in 1973-74) that are held in the university’s Grosscup Museum of Anthropology. Home to the remains of over 20 large-scale excavations conducted at various Detroit sites over the past half-century, the Grosscup Museum contains an extensive urban historical archaeology collection.


Most of the museum’s urban archaeology collections were recovered during salvage excavations in 1960s-80s conducted by Wayne State faculty and students. Owing to the constraints of time, budget, and personnel accompanying such salvage excavations, the vast majority of these collections have yet to be fully catalogued, studied, published, and shared publicly. Over the next several years, the Unearthing Detroit Project will be working on re-excavating these forgotten collections, with an aim to improve access to the rich history and archaeology of the city.


Financial and administrative support is provided to the Unearthing Detroit Project by the Research Enhancement Program in the Humanities, Office of the Vice President of Research, Wayne State University; the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology; the Department of Anthropology; the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department.


Unearthing Detroit: social media and blog