The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Archaeology Center welcome Dr. Brian D. Jones as Connecticut State Archaeologist effective July 18, 2014. He succeeds retiring State Archaeologist Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni, who has held the position since 1987.

The Connecticut State Archaeologist heads the Connecticut Office of State Archaeology (OSA) as mandated in Connecticut state statutes. Dr. Jones’s responsibilities include cultural resource preservation and reviews of economic development proposals to assist municipal governments, responding to land manager and general public inquiries, state-wide site visits and field reviews, salvage archaeological field work and the collection of archaeological materials, and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies. Dr. Jones will be an Assistant Extension Professor in UConn’s Department of Anthropology, providing teaching and academic services in his area of expertise.
“We are very excited to have Brian Jones come onboard as the next state archaeologist,” said Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni. “He has a true understanding of the many roles a state archaeologist must perform and has the background experience in Connecticut archaeology and preservation that he can apply to the position. We have every confidence he will do a marvelous job!”

Dr. Jones has been working in the archaeology field for over 24 years, most recently as Senior Archaeologist with Archaeological and Historical Services, Inc. in Storrs, Connecticut. He received his undergraduate degree in Anthropology at Oberlin College in 1986. After living and traveling in Southeast Asia, he studied European prehistory at the University of Cologne, Germany. He returned to the U.S. in 1992 to complete his Ph.D. at UConn, Storrs. Brian was the Supervisor of Field Archaeology at the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation between 1998 and 2004, after which he worked at Archaeological and Historical Services. In 2008, he took the position of Associate Director of UMass Archaeological Services in Amherst. Brian has also taught as an adjunct in the Anthropology Department at UConn since 2004. His primary research focus is the archaeology of northeastern Native American cultures. His dissertation explored human adaptation to the changing climate at the end of the last Ice Age. He is also experienced in geoarchaeology (the relationship of archaeology to landscape and soil formation processes) and stone tool analysis. 

“I’m really looking forward to being Connecticut’s next State Archaeologist. It’s a job I feel I’ve been preparing for since I started graduate school at UConn back in 1992,” said Dr. Jones. “While the position has many interesting responsibilities, what I look forward to most is working closely with the public and continuing to raise awareness about the importance of Connecticut’s ancient and historic past. The traces of people’s lives are abundant beneath our feet, but they are fragile, and the only way to guarantee their preservation is through sincere public interest.”

As State Archaeologist, Dr. Jones will also assists the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Connecticut Archaeology Center staff in planning archaeological exhibits and programs and curate the University of Connecticut’s anthropological collections. Additionally, he will also provide public education throughout the state.

“The Office of State Archaeology at the Museum serves as the repository for all anthropological collections at the university and for artifacts found on state lands,” said Leanne Harty, Director of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Archaeology Center. “They office works to increase public understanding, awareness, and support for archaeological preservation.”

Dr. Bellantoni will continue with the OSA through August to assist the State Archaeologist transition. “It has been a true honor and privilege to serve the museum, university and the people of Connecticut during my tenure as State Archaeologist,” said Dr. Bellantoni. “The experience has enriched my life more than I can possibly relate, and the many friendships we have cultivated will never be forgotten.”

The Office of State Archaeology was established by legislation in 1987 as part of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History to provide technical assistance to municipalities in the preservation of archaeological sites within their communities that might be threatened by development and vandalism. The office maintains comprehensive site files and maps, has in-state networks of supportive public, serves as a clearinghouse of information, coordinates the salvage of archaeological sites, and represents Connecticut on national issues pertaining to archaeology. The OSA has state mandated responsibilities for the preservation and archaeological excavation and reburial of human remains encountered during construction activities.