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Archaeology
of a
San Francisco Neighborhood

This Web site was funded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

It was created by Anthropological Studies Center (ASC).

When Archaeological Deposits are Found After Construction Begins

Monitoring construction during retrofitting of Interstate 80 freeway support pillar, San FranciscoMost North American archaeologists work on projects that are required by law as part of the environmental mitigation for construction projects. Ideally, the archaeologists can get in and deal with all the archaeological features in a project area before the bulldozers and construction workers move in. If this isn’t possible, archaeologists often monitor the construction activities. They watch the earthmoving activities, and are on hand if bulldozers and backhoes uncover an archaeological feature. Some fragments of transfer-printed pottery or the base of an old bottle spied in the side wall of a construction trench can indicate that an archaeological feature has been found.

If an archaeological feature is found, the archaeologist must evaluate Excavating a privy in confined space and hazardous materials protective clothing during retrofitting of Interstate 80 freeway support pillar, San Francisco whether it is worth excavating further. Good historical records of the project area help the archaeologist assess whether the feature is worth excavating. If it is, a small crew of archaeologists will quickly excavate, record and remove the archaeological material so the construction work can continue.

Archaeological features recovered through construction monitoring can give valuable information about the Past. From an archaeologist’s point of view however, construction monitoring is not the ideal way to find archaeological features. A construction trench or foundation footprint gives only a very small window onto the historic ground surface where these features are to be found. Often only a portion of an archaeological feature, such as a privy, Recording a privy, on the right below a 1906 burn layer and cobblestone paving, during retrofitting of Interstate 80 freeway support pillar, San Franciscois exposed and available for excavation. In addition, the archaeologists are always under great pressure to complete their excavation so that construction work can resume. The result can be a tantalizing but very limited insight into the archaeology of an area. In contrast, open area excavation reveals relatively large areas, with often many archaeological features. These features, from different families or businesses, and often from different time periods, allow archaeologists to develop a more complex, richer picture of the neighborhood.

 

 

 

 


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