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Paleoethnobotany Lab

Object Identifications

We Can Help You Identify Your Object

Museum curators and other staff members are happy to assist with helping you identify your object in their respective areas of expertise. Museum staff members primarily identify items in these specific areas of staff expertise:

  • Eastern US archaeology
  • Paleoethnobotany
  • Malacology
  • Decorative arts

At their discretion, staff may agree to examine other types of objects such as fossils and ethnographic items from other cultures, or may arrange for or recommend other university scholars to examine such objects.

Object identifications

By Email

Contact us at with information about your object. Please include as much information as possible, including dimensions and in-focus photographs of the object.

By Appointment

You may call the museum to schedule appointments for object identifications at 865-974-2144. Please understand that staff members’ work often takes them outside of the museum building. Some also work part time or are away at certain times of the year. As a result, walk-in appointments for object identifications are typically not possible. Please also limit the number of objects to those that can be examined within one hour or less.


Basic identifications of objects are provided to the best of staff abilities and knowledge. Museum staff will not provide authentication or appraisal of an object’s monetary value or condition. Information about such appraisals, as well as information about caring for many kinds of objects, can be found on the Smithsonian Artifact Appraisal site or the Getty Research Institute’s Appraisals Research Guide.

Individuals with archaeological artifacts or questions about archaeology may also find the Tennessee Archaeology Association’s Frequently Asked Questions about Archaeology in Tennessee of interest.

Arriving at the Museum

Please visit the general information page for a map and directions to the museum, as well as parking instructions. Upon arrival, inquire at the front desk for the location of the office of the staff member who is to help you. If you find that you will be unavoidably late (more than half an hour), please call the museum front desk at 865-974-2144 so that they can inform the staff member.