The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brooding, Mystical...and Stupid

Yesterday’s griping about site records led me to remember this gem from when I worked at the Central Coast Information Center. A site record was produced for an area in which no evidence of an archaeological site was found. The site description read:

This location has a brooding, mystical quality, and the native peoples would not have ignored it.

Why, thank you Dances with Wolves for notifying us of this remarkable archaeological discovery. I think I’ll head right up there to meditate on some crystals and burn some sage.

Okay, deep breaths....there, now I feel better.

Here's the thing - if a location contains no evidence of human activity, it is, by definition, not an archaeological site. It may have had cultural significance, it may be a place where people went to enjoy the ambiance, it may have been any number of things, and it may even be worth consideration when assessing the cultural resources in an area, but it is not an archaeological site (and in this case there is no evidence that any of the other things are true, either). If it's not an archaeological site, it should not be recorded as one. The record is muddled enough without people doing this sort of thing.


Evan Davis said...

Though I see how that type of description might be useful when deciding where to investigate I do wholly agree that using this description to justify the existence of an actual site is ludicrous.

Kay said...

Well, if it isn't a site... it should have been... what were these people thinking not hanging out in the haunted hills? Sheesh, if _I_ were one of these people I would have hung out there.... so it must be a site, I mean, how could it not, what with the creepy heebie jeebie vibes and spooky music and such?