Presidio of San Francisco (June 17, 2005) -- Stanford
archaeologists are shedding light on an unsolved Presidio mystery: a
building fire at what may be the earliest civilian settlement in
colonial San Francisco.
The Stanford research team will analyze hundreds of
artifacts discovered during last year’s excavation at El Polín Spring
in the Presidio. The Presidio Archaeology Lab, where researchers will be
at work, is open to the public from Monday, June 20, to Thursday, June
24, from 1 to 4 pm.
The Briones clan, one of San Francisco’s famous
founding colonial families, settled at the Presidio around 1815. Juana
Briones, who may have lived in the structure, is celebrated as an astute
businesswoman and landowner who challenged the conventions of her time.
The Stanford research team excavated the Briones residence last summer
and was surprised to learn that a fire destroyed the adobe dwelling.
Professor Barbara Voss, who is heading the Stanford
team, says while students were sifting through the artifacts related to
the Briones dwelling, they uncovered something unexpected.
“We found artifacts that were manufactured in the
1780s, long before the Briones family lived at the Presidio,” she said,
adding that, if true, the discovery indicates development of civilian
communities in San Francisco decades earlier than historical records
have suggested. “This summer, we are going to study ceramic, glass, and
metal artifacts to see if there is a larger pattern.”
This is not the only mystery archeologists are
trying to unravel. A team of Presidio Trust archeologists is excavating
inside the Officers’ Club and suspect that building may be the oldest in
San Francisco. Parts of the structure may be 200 years old.
For three summers, the Stanford team has excavated
at El Polín Spring in the Presidio, collecting a quarter of a million
artifacts. “Now it’s time to study what we’ve found to learn as much as
we can about the people who lived and worked there.”
The Presidio Archaeology Lab will be open to the
public for drop in visits Monday, June 20, to Thursday, June 23, from 1
to 4 pm.
Call (650) 725-6884 to arrange for a group visit.