Tag Archives: dig

You Archaeologists Dig All the Time, Right?

Let’s play a game!

I say “archaeology” you think of…?

Indiana Jones fighting Nazis and recovering things because they "belong in a museum!"

Digging lots of square holes in the ground

Digging and Indiana Jones, am I right? Perhaps even *shudder* dinosaurs?

Well, these days a lot of the archaeology done in the United States (especially in California) is not the digging kind, and usually not for purely academic purposes either  (and NEVER the dinosaur kind, since that actually falls into the field of paleontology). Most of the archaeology done is contract compliance archaeology, meaning that it is being done to comply with the laws and regulations. Which rarely means digging.

We do surveys of land looking to be developed to see if there is any surface evidence of archeological remains.

We do research on the properties and the people who lived there in the past.

We monitor ground disturbing activities at sensitive locations and document any archaeological finds.

We read and write lots of technical reports.

We study the hydration rate of different sources of obsidian. (Our office does, anyway)

We create management plans for known cultural resources (archaeological sites, historic buildings, traditional cultural places) which involves assessing the resources for significance under the law, which sometimes results in the development avoiding the resource altogether, capping the resource to protect it from damage, and a whole slew of other options! Digging actually becomes a last resort when a resource can’t be avoided or protected in some other way; when a developer is set on a location, the best way to lessen the effect on the resource is to record it in the most thorough manner we know- digging it up and writing every little detail down!

This is just a brief touch on all the things we do as archaeologists. Who says we can’t do it all?