Archaeology, Archaeology Everywhere

  These past two weeks have been filled with archaeology in every way possible! From archaeological surveys and recordings, to museum collections containing thousands of recovered artifacts, these two weeks were my dream come true. We’re still working on one of the two sections of the Backbone Trail that are currently undergoing trail changes due to the fact that the trail cuts through private property (a certain movie star/former governor of California who shall remain anonymous). In order to give the engineering teams the “Ok” on bulldozing the hiking trail, which will only occur in the event that SAMO can’t get permission from the property owners to allow the trail to officially go through their land, SAMO’s team of Archaeological Technicians went out into the field to survey the area in search of any sort of artifacts that may result in a site on the trail. We hiked about a mile to a particular* part of the trail that may be bulldozed and found some pretty neat artifacts and natural elements!


A cortical flake found on the trail


Fossilized shell I found embedded into the ground! 😀


More fossilized shell I found on the trail! 😀


I found this little guy just hanging around the trail 🙂

We found a couple more stone artifacts and even a few historic items too! There was a site, not too far from where we found the flake, that had a few pop-top beer cans and glass bottles from the 60s, but I couldn’t take a picture of those because I had to either focus on not falling down the side of the hill that they were on, or busting out my camera. I chose the former.

Last week we also paid a visit to Peter Strauss Ranch, a site I’ve been eager to visit since hearing about it on my first day at SAMO. I think I mentioned it before, but Peter Strauss Ranch was the former location of Lake Enchanto Amusement Park, the predecessor of Disneyland and the like. A few of its structures remain today, such as the Fairytale Wall, previous owner Harry Miller’s shed and radio house, and the aviary. We went out to the site to get more accurate measurements and GIS points in order to formulate a clearer map of the area for our databases. Using measuring tape and a Trimble, we took down notes of where each landmark was located and how large and wide the subject was.

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The entrance to Peter Strauss Ranch/Lake Enchanto

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The watchtower at Peter Strauss Ranch


Measuring the old shed


Today I went out to the Museum Research Center at Rocky Oaks, where over 14,000 specimen are housed in a temperature-controlled room (remember I visited this place during my first week at SAMO?). I helped out the Archival Technician, Darren, perform the annual inventory check that happens at the end of every fiscal year. Out of the 14,000+ items in the collection, a random sample of 200 specimen are selected for us to search and find in order to determine whether or not the items are properly labeled and stored in the facility. It took us about the whole day to finish up the project, but it was very interesting because I got to see so many different examples of items that are housed in the research center, including maps, projectile points, Western boots worn by Rex Allen, historic silverware, dried plants, stuffed rabbits and rats, and first-edition books. I couldn’t legally take pictures of any of the specimen, but just know that the room was about the size of a small classroom and had about 10 movable, rolling shelves that moved up and down the inside of the building.

As for extracurricular things lately, the SAMO Youth enjoyed their last few workshops and end-of-the-program presentations this past week, and I got to attend them! On Wednesday, all of the SAMO interns and SAMO Youth were invited to a resume building workshop that was extremely helpful, especially because we learned about the difference between a regular resume and a federal resume, which is needed when applying to any sort of government job through USAJobs.


The SAMO Youth at Diamond X during the resume party

On Thursday, the SAMO Youth presented us with their final projects for the summer: small presentations illustrating the work they’ve accomplished over the past 15 weeks. We saw pictures of the students kayaking down the LA River, removing graffiti from the Old Zoo in Grifith Park, and the amazing preservation work they did out on Santa Rosa Island. Plenty of delicious food was provided during the presentations and each student was awarding a certificate of completion of the program. 🙂 And to top off the week, the students held their last event of the summer: Star Fest at Paramount Ranch. I didn’t get a chance to go to the event from the beginning, but I did catch the last hour of it, which included about 20 people set up with their amateur telescopes, pointing and beautiful patterns in the sky. I got to see the Milky Way, M-27, M-6, Vega, M-7, and even Saturn and its rings!! This was truly one of my favorite events of the summer! 🙂

M-6 (not my photograph)


M-27 (not my photograph)


M-7 (not my photograph)


Last year’s Star Fest at Rancho Sierra Vista

*I can’t tell you the specific location of any of the archaeological surveys because evil people (unlike yourself) can go out and try to find the site and potentially take the artifacts we didn’t collect. 🙁    

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