Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dig that crazy Santa Ana, man!

In the "Comments" section of my recent post about the fate of Santa Ana's historic Lacy Neighborhood, our pal, archaeologist and frequent reader Douglas McIntosh, wrote, "I hope that with the destruction of this neighborhood, that someone has considered the fact that there is the strong possibility that there may be numerous sub-surface features and artifacts that may be encountered and destroyed by earth moving activities.

"Considering the age of some of the structures that Chris wrote about, back yard features such as privies, burn pits, cisterns, wells,storage rooms etc..could be exposed when grading and leveling work is carried out in this region. Nearly all of the above listed features were encountered and examined when pre-construction work for the Ronald Reagan Federal Building [on the other side of Downtown Santa Ana] was carried out in the 1990s.

"...In taking a second and third look at your photos, I believe there should have been both an architectural historian and an archaeologist on site during all of the earth-moving work associated with moving these structures."

Doug's message includes some excellent points. It also reminded me that Doug long ago sent me photos of the dig at the Reagan Federal Building/Courthouse site (CA-ORA 1030H). Now might be a good time to share those photos on this blog. The exposed brick in the photo above is the basement of an 1870s-80s newspaper office. (The Santa Ana Blade?)
All these photos were taken in 1995. The one above shows Tony Sawyer, Steve Dies, Carol Schultz , Kam Slater, and Scott Campbell toiling in the mud of the spring rainy season. The photo below shows Art Ruelas holding up a ceramic jug found in a privy feature.
Doug writes that they found, "hundreds and hundreds of [artifacts]. I should scan and post photos of some of the artifacts. Many bottles, ceramics, personal items. The photo is of the excavation of a former printing shop. We also excavated a hotel foundation and church foundation, Victorian era backyard dumps and privies. Fun stuff."
This last photo, below, shows Doug himself, finding a creative way to get the right vantage point to photograph the site. 


Connie Moreno said...


Major Pepperidge said...

It might be 150 years later, but I still don't think I want to dig in a former privy hole!

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Nice shots of the dig. It'd be cool if more construction sites today took the time to allow for archeologists to come in and have a look first.

Doug said...

What a surprise to come and see this post Chris. Thank you.
Spent the week monitoring earth moving work at a building site at UCI. No privies, but some interesting fossils. O.C. has a great deal of history (and pre-history) under all of the asphalt & concrete.

Chris Jepsen said...

Doug: No, thank YOU! I'm sending someone else from UCI to chat with you (via email) soon.

Snow White: Not only would it be cool, it would be a lot more LEGAL. There are laws *requiring* sites be monitored and dealt with in this way. As you know, not everyone follows the law. Often, someone has to file a lawsuit to get developers or cities to even CONSIDER following the laws.

Major: This is why archaeologists use fancy technical terms. For instance, it's not a trash heap, it's a "midden." Doesn't that sound much better? Nobody wants to pick through the trash, but "studying a midden" sounds scholarly. I'm sure there's a good technical word for "poo hole" too, but "privy feature" is the best I can come up with at the moment.