The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has explored the archaeology of St. Catherines Island since 1974. Over the past four decades, AMNH and the St. Catherines Island Archaeological Project (SCIAP) have emphasized longitudinal research on St. Catherines Island and employing many different technologies to refine the understanding of the humans who lived on St. Catherines.
Initial excavations on St. Catherines focused on biocultural research into the Refuge-Deptford period (cal 1000 B.C.–A.D. 600). Crews from the AMNH excavated nine burial mounds, clarifying religious and ritual practices during this early period. During the second phase of research, AMNH crews worked to reconstruct the prehistoric cultural ecology of St. Catherines Islanders. From November 1977 to May 1979, 150 archaeological sites were recorded, and each one was test excavated to determine its date. The next phase of research explored the protohistoric/ early historic (1566–1680) site of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale. Subsequent excavations reconstructed contact-period Indian subsistence and settlement patterns, as well as the Indians' general health and nutrition after European contact.
In 2005, AMNH staff began a program to conserve the most endangered archaeology and history of St. Catherines Island, including compiling this archival collection. Through these conservation efforts, AMNH field crews also uncovered some intriguing new finds, including the Fallen Tree Mortuary Complex (discovered in 2013). Additionally, crews from AMNH have surveyed the shoreline and focused on sites affected by erosion.