Nancy J. Akins

Nancy J. Akins
Research associate and former director of the OAS' Osteology Laboratory
(505) 476-4411

M.A., Anthropology, University of New Mexico, 1976
J.D., University of New Mexico, 1990
Nancy Akins

My interest in archaeology began early. When I was growing up in Farmington, my family made frequent visits to Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins, and Chaco Canyon, and hiked throughout the area. At the University of New Mexico, I majored in anthropology and earned a B.A. and M.A., returning many years later for a J.D.

My first job in archaeology was as an artist, reproducing kiva murals from the site of Pottery Mound for publication by Dr. Frank Hibben. I also worked for him as a volunteer at Comanche Springs. Towards the end of my undergraduate studies, I became a research assistant in the Human Osteology Lab at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. There I learned a great deal about anatomy and began a lifelong interest in the health and activities of past populations.

About the same time I started graduate school, I began working on the National Park Service Chaco Project. There, I did just about everything from washing and cataloging artifacts to survey and excavation and eventually analyzing and reporting on the human and faunal remains. The assistant archaeologists were encouraged to develop new skills and allowed to pursue their individual interests. I worked with and learned from many exceptional archaeologists.

After spending a short time as a consultant analyzing faunal remains for a variety of organizations, I began work for OAS. My first assignment was to complete a number of reports that were left unfinished by project directors who had left the museum. Eventually, I began analyzing faunal and human remains, and directing projects throughout the state. I find each project interesting and informative. Even the smallest project can add to our knowledge of how people lived and helps us explore broader patterns of human adaptation in the past and present.