The year 1881 in archaeology involved some significant events.
- Timgad, Algeria, is excavated.
- The excavations at Olympia, Greece which began in 1875 and were led by Ernst Curtius end.
- Mount Nemrut, Turkey, is excavated by German engineer Karl Sester.
- Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico is investigated by Swiss-born American archaeologist Adolph Bandelier.
- Pyramid of Unas in Egypt is investigated by French archaeologist Gaston Maspero.
- March - Augustus Pitt Rivers finds palaeolithic flints in concreted gravels of the Nile terraces near Thebes.
- "Official" discovery of collective tomb DB320 at Deir el-Bahari in Egypt.
- Capt. H. L. Wells, RE, finds Qadamgah in Fars Province, Persia (Iran).
- The birch bark Bakhshali manuscript, incorporating perhaps the earliest known use of mathematical zero, is unearthed near Bakhshali in British India.
- John Evans - The Ancient Bronze Implements, Weapons and Ornaments of Great Britain and Ireland.
- H. A. Fletcher - "The archaeology of the west Cumberland iron trade". Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Archaeological Society 5:5–21.
- Possible earliest use of the term "Industrial archaeology" in the English language.
- "Olympia". britannica.com. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Thompson, M. W. (1977). General Pitt-Rivers: evolution and archaeology in the nineteenth century. Bradford-on-Avon: Moonraker Press. p. 96. ISBN 0-239-00162-1.
- Forest and Stream (New York) 1881-05-26 16:326; The Builder (London) 1881-08-06 41:164.
- Briquelet, Kate (15 June 2014). "How Cleopatra's Needle got to Central Park". New York Post. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- "Hetty Goldman - Jewish Women's Archive". jwa.org. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- "Frances Stackhouse". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 26 May 2017.