Friday, April 26, 2013

Presidio Trust Archaeology

Typical unassuming site
So excited today to give a little time to the crew on a dig in San Francisco's very own Presidio. The site is a Spanish structure dating to 1815. Shallow stratigraphy and a huge amount of artifacts ranging from ceramics and bone to clear post molds and serpentine foundation stones make for compellingly rich excavations at even the shallowest levels. Even in the short time I was there doing minimal screening and trowel work I got to unearth a good range of the things in abundance at the site. Beyond cool.

Ah, faunal remains
I also got a peek behind the scenes at the lab and artifact repository. I was blown away by the level of tech and homesick for my days in the Indiana U ethno-lab and CRM work. This hidden little lab, while smaller, honestly rivals what I've seen of the facility at the Chicago Field Museum. Just absolutely blown away and the current dig site was literally a hundred feet from the lab.

Adobe interpretive wall
Can't say enough about the crew as well. They really had a handle on the site and we had a great time talking everything from timelines to artifact assemblages and cultural drift and transmission and the levels of adaptation or lack there of in the Spanish who were establishing the Northernmost Spanish outpost in California. My direct experience with this era is with US Army material on what was then the United States Western frontier in Indiana. Strikingly different in a number of ways, not the least of which was the emphasis on religious conversion for the Spanish VS the far more empire building centered approach of the US. The lack of solid Spanish military presence in California at the time may have certainly been an aspect of not having a contemporary military threat in the immediate area. The closest being the Russian outpost at Fort Ross which was primarily a fur trading and fishing station established well after El Presidio. Even so, it boggles the mind how ineffective the Spanish fort was. Three walls, mounted lancers and not enough powder to fire their poorly maintained cannons.

I was more than happy to help, ask a million questions and make some new archaeology friends in the city. I'll look forward to future opportunities to work on sites in the Presidio.

Certainly also adds fuel to the fire to push my experimental archaeology projects forward. Quietly continuing my caligae research but I have yet to build another pair or map the equivalent of a day's march or further. There is plenty of room in project to do more than one day march, as they were typically only ten miles or so, even if that does seem short for solo project like mine. Still wondering if some organization would fund a march retracing the steps of a historic Roman route.

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