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Lifetime Achievement Award

Current Committee Charge: The committee solicits nominations and selects recipients for the Lifetime Achievement Award.  The award is presented in recognition of a member who has performed truly extraordinary service (scholarly, pedagogical, and institutional) of positive and lasting quality to the Society for American Archaeology or to the profession as a whole. The award was first presented in 1975 and replaces the Distinguished Service Award.

Committee Composition: Committee composition is one chair and four members.

Term Length: Term length is three years.

Award Cycle: Not applicable.

Committee Chair and End of Term: Dean Snow [2014]

Committee Chair Contact Information: Dean R. Snow, 409 Carpenter Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, tel: 814-865-2509, e-mail: drs17@psu.edu

Committee Members and Ends of Terms: David Anderson [2014], Victor Fisher [2015], Donald D. Fowler [2015], Paul Minnis [2015], Ann Stahl [2014], Barbara Stark [2014], Patty Jo Watson [2015]

Board Liaison: Suzanne K. Fish

Award Description: The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually to an archaeologist for specific accomplishments that are truly extraordinary, widely recognized as such, and of positive and lasting quality. Recognition can be granted to an archaeologist of any nationality for activities within any theoretical framework, for work in any part of the world, and for a wide range of areas relating to archaeology, including but not limited to research or service. Given as the Distinguished Service Award between 1975 and 2000, it became the Lifetime Achievement Award and was awarded as such for the first time in 2001.

Who Is Eligible to Submit Nominations or Apply for the Award: Any professional archaeologist may submit nominations for this award. Nominees must be SAA members by the time of their nomination, and the strongest nominees will have made significant contributions to both the organization and to the range of archaeological practice that in which SAA members participate.

Nomination/Submission Materials Required: Nomination letters should include a letter of nomination, outlining the nominee’s lifetime accomplishments, as well as a curriculum vita of the nominee. Additional letters of support are not required, but the strongest nominations, historically, have included a minimum of five (5) letters of support; some have had more than fifteen (15) letters of support. Nominators are required to collate all nomination materials into one single Adobe Acrobat pdf document to be emailed to the committee chair, Dean Snow.

Nomination/Submission Deadline: January 3, 2014

Other Special Requirements: None

Selection or Evaluation Criteria: The criteria used to evaluate submissions for the Lifetime Achievement Award includes evidence of extraordinary lifetime accomplishments that have made great scholarly, pedagogical and/or institutional achievements.

Committee Deliberation Process (e.g. dates, venue): The committee chair leads the deliberation process by chairing electronic meetings to reiterate criteria and discuss particular nominees. Committee members then send their rankings to the chair to tally them. In cases of split decisions, the committee meets electronically again to discuss the relative weighting of particular criteria vis-à-vis the tied nominees, and the committee votes again. If all nominations are received by the deadline, the committee makes a decision by the end of January and forwards its decision to the SAA Board.

Nature of Award (e.g. monetary, medal, symposium): The awardee is recognized by the SAA through a plaque presented during the business meeting held at the Annual Meeting, a citation in The SAA Archaeological Record, and acknowledgment on the awards page of the SAA Website.


2013    Henry Wright

Henry Wright is the 2013 recipient of the SAA Lifetime Achievement Award. In his career, he has made transformative contributions to archaeological theory and method, and has conducted important research in North America, Mesopotamia, Africa, and China. He exemplifies the highest qualities of enduring scholarship, teaching, service, and outreach, both nationally and internationally. His fieldwork has focused on the emergence of the world’s earliest states, although he has also investigated a wide range of other topics. Dr. Wright’s contributions to scholarship have been acknowledged by a MacArthur Fellowship in 1993, election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1994, and a Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement from the Archaeological Institute of America in 2009. At the University of Michigan, he was awarded a Collegiate Professorship in 2001 and the Albert C. Spaulding Distinguished University Professorship in 2006. Congratulations to Dr. Wright.

2012    Bennie Carlton Keel

We give Bennie C. Keel the 2012 SAA Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong service to the profession. Dr. Bennie C. Keel has shaped cultural resource management in the United States. He oversaw large-scale preservation projects in Southeastern archaeology; he helped found the field of cultural conservation; and he established federal archaeology across several agencies (Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, US Forest Service, Department of Defense). He helped write the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Abandoned Shipwreck Act; he helped craft the first national regulations for burials and sacred objects involving federal action or public lands; and he supervised the development of the first National Archaeological Database and Archaeological Sites Management Information System. Bennie C. Keel is also a fine teacher and active scholar. He is devoted, accomplished, and encouraging to his students. His contributions to Southeastern archaeology have made him a leading expert in Cherokee and North Carolina archaeology. Dr. Keel’s passion for public archaeology, for the preservation of America’s cultural heritage, and for archaeological professionalism is a model for future generations.

2011    W. Raymond Wood

W. Raymond Wood is the 2011 recipient of the SAA Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his enduring recognized scholarship and his extensive service to the profession. Dr. Wood is an eminent figure in North American archaeology whose work in the Great Plains has deepened archaeological and ethnohistoric scholarship in the region. His many contributions to Plains archaeology range from Quaternary paleoecology and prehistoric settlement to historical cartography and the early fur trade. His early interdisciplinary collaborations set the standard for research on the human component of the Quaternary period. In addition to his own extensive publications, he has served as a highly effective editor of Plains Anthropologist and American Antiquity. In his teaching, research, and service-related activities, Dr. Wood has conveyed the importance of archaeological ethics and has emphasized engagement with avocational archaeologists.

2010    Patty Jo Watson

2009    Linda Cordell

2008    Lewis Binford

2007    Frank Hole

2006    Bruce Trigger

2005    George Carr Frison

2004    Ian Graham

2003    Don D. Fowler

2002    Jaime Litvak King

2001    Jeffrey S. Dean

The Distinguished Service Award, first presented in 1975 (and annually beginning in 1980), was succeeded by the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Awardees of the Distinguished Service Award are as follows:

2000    William D. Lipe

1999    James A. Brown

1998    Raymond H. Thompson

1997    Dena Dincauze

1996    Robert McCormick Adams

1995    Stuart Struever

1994    Hester A. Davis

1993    George J. Gumerman

1992    John E. Yellen

1991    Douglas Schwartz

1990    Fred Wendorf

1989    George Irving Quimby

1988     Richard B. Woodbury and Nathalie F. S. Woodbury

1987    William A. Ritchie

1986    Waldo R. Wedel

1985    Emil Walter Haury

1984    James Bennett Griffin

1983    Hannah Marie Wormington

1982    Jesse David Jennings

1981    Albert Clanton Spaulding

1980    Gordon Randolph Willey

1975     Carl Haley Chapman and Charles Robert McGimsey III