The Presidio Trust archaeology program explores what’s beneath it all…the extraordinary historical record just under our feet. The Presidio Trust manages over 30 archaeological areas within the Presidio National Historic Landmark District (NHLD). These archaeological areas offer a long-term history from Native Ohlone settlement hundreds of years ago through the occupation of the United States Army.
The Presidio Archaeology Lab’s primary research focus is the site of El Presidio de San Francisco the original Spanish Colonial fort occupied by the Spanish and Mexicans from 1776-1846. Archaeological investigations take place on Pershing Square, located on the Main Post and are situated within what archaeologists believe was the western portion of the circa 1815 Spanish-colonial El Presidio quadrangle.
Archaeological excavation in this area started in early May 2014 and has revealed archaeological deposits with artifacts and features dating to the Spanish, Mexican, and American occupations of the area. Investigations will be ongoing for the next several years. We use an open-site approach, inviting park visitors to witness archaeological research in action.
There are various opportunities to volunteer with archaeology at the Presidio. Volunteers participating in the field season drop-in program may assist in wet-screening excavated dirt for artifacts, help to clean artifacts in the Archaeology Lab and/or aid archaeologists with the process of flotation. Volunteers interested in engaging with the public and talking about archaeology can apply to be a Heritage Program docent and share their knowledge of the archaeological site with visitors. Those interested in the full process of excavation, laboratory work and report writing can apply for a volunteer internship position.
Volunteers are needed during the archaeology field season
that begins in May and ends in October. Volunteers
for the El Presidio Archaeological Identification Season (ELPAIS) 2015 will get
an opportunity to spend a shift learning about the history and archaeology of
the Presidio and help the archaeology team in performing one or more of the
- Wet screen excavated dirt, identify and bag
- Wash, sort, and count artifacts recovered from
the ELPAIS excavation area. Materials
may include metal, glass, animal bone, ceramics and more from the American
Military, Spanish/Mexican, and/or Native Ohlone eras at the Presidio.
- Assist archaeologists with flotation, the method
used for separating botanical material from soil for later analysis.
- Label artifacts with assigned catalog numbers,
using archival labeling materials, preparing them to be housed in the
Learn more about the Archaeology Volunteer position >>
Heritage Program Docents
The Presidio Trust is recruiting enthusiastic individuals to become part of a team
of volunteer docents for the Officers' Club, San Francisco's most
historic building, as well as for the archaeology site during the field
season (May – October).
Docents help welcome visitors to the archaeology site, guide
visitors through the excavation areas, and help orient visitors to the
Presidio. Heritage Program docents are
all required to attend 5 training sessions prior to beginning their shifts.
Learn more about the Heritage Docent position >>
The Presidio Trust offers Archaeology Internships that provide a unique
training opportunity in historical archaeology. The number of applicants
accepted annually is dependent on the number and type of projects planned for
the year. The duration of an Archaeology Internship is between ten
and twelve months.
Learn more about the Archaeology Internship position >>