Award Details


Lifetime Achievement

Nomination/Submission Deadline: 04 Jan 2024

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 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 vitae 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, Larry Zimmerman. We strongly recommend that the nominee be advised that she/he is being recommended for this award.

Other Special Requirements

Prior to any award recommendation being finalized and publicly announced, anyone recommended for an award, scholarship, or grant will be required to certify the following:

(a)  I am not and have not ever been the subject of a discrimination or harassment lawsuit or related administrative complaint that resulted in an adverse finding; and

(b)  I do not have and have not had a current or pending disciplinary action such as suspension or termination of registration, resulting from a Register of Professional Archaeologists’ grievance investigation.

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. 

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/or institutional) of positive and lasting quality to the Society for American Archaeology or to the profession as a whole. The Distinguished Service Award, first presented in 1975 (and annually beginning in 1980), was succeeded by the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

Committee Composition

Committee composition is one chair and at least four members.

Term Length

Term length is three years. Individuals ending their terms cycle off the committee at the close of the Business Meeting held during the annual SAA Meeting, and new appointees begin their terms at this time.

Award Cycle


Committee Chair and End of Term

Larry Zimmerman [2025]

Committee Chair Contact Information

Committee Members and Ends of Terms

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 who tallies 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. 

2024 Kent G. Lightfoot

2023 Timothy Earle

2022 George Smith

2021 Lynne Sebastian

2020 Larry J. Zimmerman

2019 Lynne G. Goldstein

2018 Martin McAllister

2017 David Hurst Thomas

2016 Margaret W. Conkey

2015 Bruce D. Smith

2014 Jeremy Sabloff

2013 Henry Wright

2012 Bennie Carlton Keel

2011 W. Raymond Wood

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