Washington State has a rich archaeological heritage that spans over 12,000 years dating back to the arrival of the first humans who crossed the land bridge in the Bering Sea. Typical pre-historic archaeological sites in Washington include shell middens, open sites or campsites, pictographs and petroglyphs, caves or rockshelters, wet sites, lithic sites, quarries, culturally modified trees, and burial sites or cemeteries. While many people relate archaeology to ancient peoples and sites, more recent peoples also have left traces of their lives on the landscape. These sites can range in scope from fur trade sites and early missions, to military areas and homestead sites, as well as logging, mining and railroad features. To date over 33,000 sites have been recorded (Map of Archaeological Sites Per County).
The Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation recognizes that archaeological sites are a nonrenewable resources that contribute to our sense of history and place and define our collective shared heritage. The wise stewardship of these sites is our collective responsibility.
For a comprehensive overview of archaeology in the the State of Washington see: