Archaeology Research

The Presidio is one of the only national park sites in the country with an active archaeological dig site and is home to the largest public archaeology project west of the Mississippi. Our archaeological research 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 areas offer a long-term history of these lands – from the Native Ohlone settlement that was here 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 Spain and Mexico from 1776-1846. Archaeological investigations take place on Pershing Square, located on the Main Post and are situated within the western portion of the circa 1815 Spanish-colonial El Presidio quadrangle.

Archaeological excavation in this area started in 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.

Learn more about all of our public-facing volunteering opportunities in the Presidio >>