Trowel Blazers: Women of the OSA featuring Kim Urban

Friday, November 8, 2019
Trowel Blazers: Women of the OSA

In honor of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in 2020, we are celebrating the talented women who work for the NC Office of State Archaeology with our "Trowel Blazers" series. This week we're honoring Kimberly Urban, Staff Archaeologist and NCDOT Project Registrar at the OSA Raleigh Office!

Kim started with the OSA in 2015 as an East Carolina University (ECU) graduate student at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology/Archaeology with a concentration in Geoarchaeology and Historical Archaeology and a minor in Geology from Mercyhurst University. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology with a focus in Historical Archaeology from ECU.

How did you become interested in archaeology?

I became interested in history as a kid from family trips to different historical sites and museums. In high school, I took every history class that I could and decided that I wanted to go to college for history and become a museum curator. However, while touring colleges, someone suggested that I look into anthropology and archaeology as a major instead of history. I decided to tour Mercyhurst University because they had an anthropology/archaeology program; I fell in love with the school and enrolled. Eight years later, here I am!

What is your favorite project or archaeology memory?

My field school will always be one of my favorite sites. It was in Taos, New Mexico at Cantonment Burgwin, a temporary fort established in 1852 by the U.S. Army to protect the Taos Valley and its new settlers from the Utes and Jicarilla Apaches. The cantonment was abandoned in 1860 and although it had a very short occupation period, it left behind a lot of questions. Two sketches of the fort showed different locations and shapes of the Guard House structure, so the research goal of my field school was to figure out which sketch was correct. We were able to find the foundation of the L-shaped structure that was sketched on the 1857 map and confirm that the 1857 sketch was correct. We also found some interesting artifacts including a metal projectile point, which indicated the Native Americans were adapting to the new materials the settlers and army brought into the Taos Valley.

Aside from the archaeology, getting to go to a new state and excavate in the desert was an incredible experience. I loved it so much, I went back to work on the project the next two summers!

What other hobbies do you have?

La Croix, Cats, Wine, and Bravo Television Network. I love traveling and being outdoors. I would love to visit all 50 states one day (31 so far!) and do more international travel. I’m also heavily involved in my boyfriend’s hobby of driving a racecar as his crew chief and recently got into amateur photography.

Cat or dog?

That’s a hard one for me. I had a dog growing up and she was the absolute best. I now have two cats, Oscar and Oliver, and I love them so much. So, I’m going to say both!


About the Campaign
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. As part of a national campaign to commemorate this historic event, North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) is coordinating a campaign titled “She Changed the World: NC Women Breaking Barriers” March 2019, continuing through November 2020. American women were granted the right to vote with the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on August 18, 1920, after a 72-year fight by suffragists. The 19th Amendment did not resolve the issue of suffrage for women of color, who continued to battle for voting rights for decades. 

Image credits:
-Kim in the field, image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
-Kim and boyfriend Nick at a race track in Nürburg, Germany, image courtesy of Kim Urban
-Cats Oscar and Oliver, image courtesy of Kim Urban