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Dr. Elizabeth Benchley retires from the UWF Archaeology Institute

July 28, 2023 | Brandy Gottlieb |

Three people standing. One is pointing in the distance to the left.
Dr. Elizabeth Benchley is retiring after 26 years of service to the UWF Archaeology Institute.

The University of West Florida bids congratulations and farewell to Dr. Elizabeth Benchley, director of the UWF Archaeology Institute. Benchley came to UWF in 1997 and is now retiring after many years of service.

Benchley began as the associate director of the UWF Archaeology Institute in 1997. She later became director and has continued to have teaching and research responsibilities since her time in leadership. During her time at UWF, Benchley has also played integral roles with the Tristan de Luna y Arellano settlement, the site of the first multi-year European settlement in the U.S. identified by the University of West Florida archaeology program.

Throughout her career, Benchley has worked on a variety of archaeological endeavors. Her research interests have included cultural resource management, cultural ecology, settlement-subsistence studies, hunter-gatherer economies and the evolution of complex society. 

Benchley has been conducting archaeological research since 1961 and became a Registered Professional Archaeologist in 1999. She has investigated Aboriginal site types dating from the earliest PaleoIndian (10,000 BC) to Historic Native American and on Euro-American sites ranging from Spanish, British and French Colonial to Modern Industrial. She has also directed projects at a variety of mid- to late 19th century historic sites including homesteads, lime kilns, barracks, a mill town and logging camps and dams. 

Benchley received her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1974. There, she directed the archaeological research laboratory and managed the cultural resource management program for more than 20 years.

“Her thoughtful ideas, pertinent suggestions, and unwavering encouragement were tremendously appreciated by the FPAN staff.” - Scott-Ireton

For many years, Benchley has also served as Board Advisor for the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, associate director of FPAN and interim associate dean for the UWF College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, commented on Benchley’s contribution. Scott-Ireton said, “Her thoughtful ideas, pertinent suggestions, and unwavering encouragement were tremendously appreciated by the FPAN staff.”

UWF, CASSH, FPAN and the UWF Archaeology Institute remain grateful for Benchley’s many years of service and legacy to the field of archaeology.

To learn more about the Archaeology Institute, visit