Fort Ross was built by Russian traders and Alaskan Natives in the early 1800s in what is now Northern California, about 2.5 hours north of the Bay Area. My friend and fellow UC Grad Sara Gonzalez has been working there for her dissertation and invited me up for a few days over Spring Break to help find a few old datums for repatriating artifacts. Sara practices what she calls “catch and release” archaeology–as per the stated wishes of the Kashaya Pomo Native Californians she works alongside, she plots all of the artifacts as they are excavated and then reburies the artifacts after analysis. For more on this methodology, see “Archaeology for the Seventh Generation” – an article that Sara has authored alongside other UC Berkeley Grads.
I didn’t help in the actual reburial, but I was able to finally check out the site after seeing numerous presentations on it over the years. I was surprised at the elaborate reconstruction of the Fort and was delighted at the relatively unrestricted access the public has to the site. I hate being confined to small interpretive paths; I loved being able to climb down the cliffs to the sea. The park is extremely well maintained and was completely lovely to visit on a spring day.
We were also able to walk along an old section of Highway 1, the highway was moved to reconstructed the Fort in the 1970s.
The survey was a nice break from my usual excavation-intensive archaeological experience. Sara and I are in Ruth’s class together and she will be presenting a small project integrating the GIS/photo/video we took over Spring Break next Tuesday. I’m excited to see the results!