Backstage Pass to North Dakota History

This blog takes you behind the scenes of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Get a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of the staff, volunteers, and partners who make it all possible. Discover what it takes to preserve North Dakota's natural and cultural history.

Ashenafi Girma Zena serves as the archaeology collections manager at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology, specializing in archaeology, from Washington State University. His academic background includes a Master of Science in quaternary and prehistory studies from the University of Ferrara, a Master of Arts in archaeology from Addis Ababa University, and a Bachelor of Education in history from Bahir Dar University. Throughout his professional career, Dr. Zena has accumulated extensive experience in archaeology collections management, university teaching, and leadership roles. Since 2019, as the archaeology collections manager, he has overseen a vast collection exceeding 12 million artifacts, spanning 13,000 years of human history in the northern Plains of North America. His responsibilities encompass organizing and digitizing collections, managing collections access, facilitating acquisitions, ensuring Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) compliance, creating 3D artifact models, and conducting collections-based research. Furthermore, Dr. Zena has authored research articles for esteemed peer-reviewed journals and produced compelling blog content centered around archaeological artifacts and the proficient management of archaeology collections.