Remembering Awatovi: The Story of an Archaeological Expedition in Northern Arizona, 1935-1939

Jitterbugs Camp Photo
The “Jitterbugs.” PM 2004.


This exhibition presents the story of a 1930's archaeological expedition to Arizona. It is also the story of a special place—Awatovi—a village venerated by Hopi people and seminal to the development of professional archaeology in this country. The Peabody Museum’s 1935–1939 Awatovi Expedition was a scholarly project inspired by and reflecting the Pueblo village’s long history.

Awatovi, on Antelope Mesa, is one of the first villages of the Hopi mesas in northeastern Arizona. The area’s early history is shared by several Puebloan peoples, though Oowatovi (as some Hopis spell it) was a Hopi village by the early 1500s. European influence was minimal until 17th-century Spanish missionaries brought new religion, regulations, and tactics of coercion and control. New and old ways blended, as the Hopi people maintained their traditions through secrecy and at great personal risk.

The period of conversion was deeply disruptive to Hopi communities. In response, in 1700, a group of Hopis chose to burn the village. In a way, this destruction allowed people of the village to move forward in a new place.

Early 20th-century scholars saw Awatovi as an unprecedented opportunity to explore the lives of Puebloan peoples during the 6th through 18th centuries. While some Hopis felt the abandoned village should remain undisturbed, others condoned research there. Members of the Peabody’s Awatovi Expedition marked the village’s significance through excavation, analysis, and publication.


This online exhibition is a revised version of an exhibition originally on display in Tozzer Library in 2009.