Public Archaeology program in San Diego

Anita Cohen-Williams (IACAGC@ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU)
Thu, 6 Apr 1995 00:28:50 -0700

The San Diego Presidio site is the oldest European settlement located on the
Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada. A combined mission/presidio
(military colony) settlement was established by Spain at the site in 1769.
Five years later, the mission was relocated a few miles away and the outpost
was granted the status of a Royal Presidio. During the later eighteenth and
early nineteenth centuries, the fortified military settlement grew into an
important colony. It evolved from a simple log stockade into a massive adobe
citadel that counted dozens of buildings and hundreds of rooms. The population
was made up of a diverse array of civilians as well as military personnel. At
its height, the settlement protected more than five hundred inhabitants. By
1790, the presidio came to serve as the chief administrative and judicial
center of the surrounding region. The post went into sharp decline after 1830
as a result of policy changes undertaken by the new Mexican Republic. In 1835,
the presidio was abandoned. Today, the ruins of the adobe citadel and town are
protected as part of Presidio Park. It remains one of the most important, and
best preserved, Spanish colonial sites in the western United States.

DESCRIPTION OF THE SUMMER PROJECT: The summer project involves an intensive,
eight-week excavation session focusing on the north wing of the
eighteenth-century presidio. Participants enrolled in the program will aid in
the unearthing of artifacts and architectural remains of the fortress.
Previous work in this area has disclosed an intricate complex of rooms and
passageways. The artifacts recovered in 1994 have included fragments of
crockery, animal bones, children's toys, and firearms parts. We have also
discovered that some of the structures in the area had tiled floors arranged
in a mosaic pattern.
Excavations require participants to undertake physical labor similar to
gardening. The dig will continue seven days a week (except on holidays),
including Saturdays and Sundays. Saturday through Thursday we dig between 9:00
AM and 4:30 PM. On Fridays, the dig runs from 8:00 AM through noon. Public
archaeology participants may choose to dig on as few or as many days as they
like during the session.
A series of two pre-excavation lecture sessions will take place on May 22nd
(Monday), and 23rd (Tuesday), at 7:00 PM at the Junipero Serra Museum,
adjacent to the Presidio site. These talks are designed to provide an
orientation and introduction to the project and are free to the public.
Attendance at these sessions is optional for Public Archaeology participants.

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Jack S. Williams

SCHEDULE: Monday, May 22 through Friday, July 14, 1995
(holidays excluded) - open to anyone over 13 years of age

FEE: $50.00 (this fee helps to pay expenses incurred for equipment and staff)

SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS: The San Diego Presidio archaeology Project is a
communit effort being sponsored by the San Diego Historical Society and the
Center for Spanish Colonial Archaeology, in cooperation with the City of San
Diego, and with the participation of the National Civilian Community Corps.

Prospective participants can contact Anita Cohen-Williams at (602) 820-5492
(home) or (602) 965-4579 (work), or email (; or the
Project coordinator Eleanor Neeley at (619) 297-3258 for additional
information. Please mail application or request for more information to Anita
G. Cohen-Williams, San Diego Presidio Archaeological Program, 1743 S.
Standage, Mesa, AZ 85202. The Center is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Refund in full will be made if the course is cancelled due to low enrollment.
No refunds will be made after May 23rd. Please make your check out to the
Center for Spanish Colonial Archaeology.


Anita Cohen-Williams; Reference Services; Hayden Library
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
PHONE: (602) 965-4579 FAX: (602) 965-9169