Quaking Aspen Campground Excavation
Sequoia National Forest, California, 1997
by Steven M. Ptomey, Archaeologist
Perfect 70° weather and a picturesque mountain meadow greeted 24 PIT volunteers for the Quaking Aspen Campground Excavation project. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 80 and traveled from locations as far away as Australia and Des Moines, Iowa. Part of the first day was spent training the participants in excavation methods, mapping, documentation procedures, and other “how to’s” of archaeology. After a short training period the “crew” was eager to get to work. They soon found that archaeology is really a dusty, dirty, and physically demanding job—not at all what Hollywood has depicted in recent years. “Dirt is our friend” soon became the crew’s motto, because by the end of the first day, they were covered from head to toe with a fine layer of grit and grime. By the end of the two days they had completed 12 1-m2 test units to an average depth of 40 cm. Only flaked debitage was found, and the crew learned that negative data are also important. Fourteen volunteers from Porterville City College also participated in the excavation as part of an introductory archaeology class.