The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Everyday, Monitoring, Monitoring

 I am in Los Angeles, monitoring work being done in the downtown area.  Monitoring, that is watching construction or other work in order to ensure that no archaeological sites are impacted unnecessarrily.  Most of the time, there is a clear reason for monitoring - the work is in or near an archaeological site, or in an area thought to be sensitive for archaeological sites, but where they have not been found for some reason (areas with a history of flooding and the resulting sediments are good examples). 

I am currently monitoring in an area with a clear reason to suspect archaeological sites - there are many within the general vicinity, and the Los Angeles River used to flow on a meandering course through the area, meaning both that there was a clean source of water to entice settlement, and that there was a source of flood sediments to cover sites.

On the other hand, the work being done involves drilling with an 8" drill bit down to depths of 100 feet.  The drill, by its nature, crushes most of what comes up, meaning that artifacts are reduced to small chunks, less than a centimeter across all dimensions, if they are not reduced entirely to dust. 

So, this is an odd situation.  I would have recommended monitoring had I been the contractor who wrote the EIR for the project.  However, as the guy on the ground, I don't know that it's particularly useful.  However, there is nonetheless also a possibility of hitting burials, and bone fragments would be visible during the drilling, so I suppose the monitoring is worthwhile.  And, really, it's work, which is always welcome.

However, it's still really damn boring.

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