Project Updates

July 09, 2005

“AFTER THE DIG” ARCHAEOLOGY OPEN HOUSE – an update from Public Interpretation Intern Beatrice Cox

The “After the Dig” event was held at the Presidio Archaeology Lab. The lab is a joint facility of the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service.
On June 20-23, 2005, the Stanford research team hosted an archaeology open house at the Presidio of San Francisco. Our goal was to provide park visitors the rare opportunity to see the “next step” in the archaeological process. Very often when people think of archaeology, they think about digging. But digging is only about 10% of an archaeologist’s job. In Summer 2003 and 2004 we recovered over 200,000 artifacts. For the next year, we will be cataloging and analyzing these objects in the lab. The lab is where we put together the various pieces of the puzzle to begin to understand what life may have been like for the Briones family during the Spanish-colonial and Mexican era of the Presidio of San Francisco (ca. 1779-1847).

Erica Simmons evaluates the composition of a fragment of fired adobe brick.

During the four days of the lab open house we received over 450 visitors. Children’s tour groups and adults alike enjoyed the displays, activities, and demonstrations. At the lab, visitors got a chance to ask questions and chat with the archaeologists about their work at the five analysis work stations: animal bone, metal, adobe, glass, and ceramics. At each station staff, student volunteers, and archaeologists offered details on the processes of analysis. All of our visitors were able to handle selected artifacts while trying to identify others that were mere fragments. Children were also introduced to the fundamentals of digging while given a brief history of California through artifact identification. We also had the privilege of meeting with many people whose heritage is connected to the Presidio of San Francisco and especially to El Polín Springs. It was a pleasure to talk with them about our research progress.

Featured Artifact

Rebecca Daly and Cheryl Smith-Lintner demonstrate how archaeologists use modern animal skeletons to identify bones found in archaeological deposits.
Cheryl, our resident zooarchaeologist, at the bone table, displayed replicas of a cow and chicken skeleton to the delight of the children who tried to guess which bone was which! They even tried to match the bones with their own skeleton. At the adobe station, Erica exhibited and explained the difference between burned adobe and burned soil. It’s all in the color! Liz asks, “What do you think this is?” as the group looks closely at a rusty piece of metal that resembles a roller skate! Thanks to all of our new friends and old, it was an incredible week at the Presidio Archaeology Lab! We are grateful to the staff of the Presidio Archaeology Lab for allowing us to hold this event in their facilities and also to the Presidio Trust for providing support for this research.

Posted by bvoss on July 09, 2005 | Comments