The Deetz Award is named for James Deetz (1930–2000), whose books are classics for professional archaeologists as well as for non-specialists. Deetz’s accessible and entertaining style of writing give his books influence beyond the discipline, because they are read by a broad audience of non-specialists. The Deetz Award is intended to recognize books and monographs that are similarly well-written and accessible to all potential readers.


Books and monographs bearing a date of publication of 2021-2024 will be eligible for

consideration for the award that will be presented at the 2025 Annual Meeting.


Submissions must meet the following criteria:

  • Historical or postmedieval archaeology must be the major focus of the work;
  • The work must be based upon archaeological evidence rather than strictly upon historical evidence;
  • The work may deal with European, colonial, or indigenous cultural groups in early modern and modern times, but not solely with prehistory;
  • The work may be a monograph or an edited volume of essays on the same theme;
  • The work must be well written and accessible and have appeal both to crossover audiences and to the public (i.e., not aimed specifically at scholarly or specialist audiences).

Deadline: Submissions must be received by no later than June 7, 2024.

Please send a brief email to the Chair of the Awards Committee at the address below. The letter of nomination must include contact information (including e-mail address and telephone) for an appropriate person at the press where the book was published, as well as for the book’s author(s). Contact the Chair of the SHA Awards Committee in advance of the deadline for shipping information.

Deetz Book Award
JW (Joe) Joseph, Chair
SHA Awards Committee


Previous Winners

2004    Thomas N. Layton, Gifts of the Celestial Kingdom: A Shipwrecked Cargo for Gold Rush California (Stanford University
Press, 2002)
2005    Laurie A. Wilkie, The Archaeology of Mothering: An African-American Midwife’s Tale (Routledge, 2003).
2006    Jane Perkins Claney, Rockingham Ware in American Culture, 1830-1930: Reading Historical Artifacts (University Press of New
England, 2004)
2007    Kent G. Lightfoot, Indians, Missionaries, and Merchants: The Legacy of Colonial Encounters on the California Frontiers (University of California Press, 2004)
2008    Mark P. Leone, The Archaeology of Liberty in an American Capital: Excavations in Annapolis (University of California Press, 2005)
2009    James Bruseth and Toni Turner, From a Watery Grave: The Discovery and Excavation of La Salle’s Shipwreck, La Belle (Texas A&M University Press, 2005)
2010    Shannon A. Novak, House of Mourning: A Biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre (University of Utah Press, 2008)
2011    James P. Delgado, Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada (University of California Press, 2008)
2012    Laurie A. Wilkie, The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi: A Historical Archaeology of Masculinity at a University Fraternity (University of California Press, 2010)
2013    Kelly J. Dixon, Julie M. Schablitsky, and Shannon A. Novak (editors), An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party’s Alder Creek Camp (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011)
2014    Leland Ferguson, God’s Fields: Landscape, Religion, and Race in Moravian Wachovia (University Press of Florida, 2014)
2015    Meta F. Janowitz and Diane Dallal (editors)Tales of Gotham, Historical Archaeology, Ethnohistory and Microhistory of New York City (Springer, 2013)
2016  Elizabeth Terese Newman, Biography of a Hacienda: Work and Revolution in Rural Mexico (University of Arizona Press, 2014)
2017    Robin M. Lillie and Jenifer E. Mack, Dubuque’s Forgotten Cemetery: Excavating a Nineteenth-Century Burial Ground in a Twenty-First-Century City (University of Iowa Press, 2015)
2018     Martha A. Zierden and Elizabeth J. Reitz, Charleston: An Archaeology of Life in a Coastal Community (University Press of Florida, 2016)
2019     Rachael Kiddey, Homeless Heritage: Collaborative Social Archaeology as Therapeutic Practice (Oxford University Press, 2017)
2020     Chip Colwell, Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2017)
2021      James. P. Delgado, War at Sea: A Shipwrecked History from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 2019)
2022     Rebecca Yamin, Archaeology at the Site of the Museum of the American Revolution: A Tale of Two Taverns and the Growth of Philadelphia (Temple University Press, 2019)
2023     Krysta Ryzewski, Detroit Remains: Archaeology and Community Histories of Six Legendary Places (University of Alabama Press, 2022)
2024     Philip Levy, The Permanent Resident: Excavations and Explorations of George Washington’s Life (University of Virginia Press, 2022)