​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 ag​o 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 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 He​ritage 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.  

Archaeology Volunteers

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) 2018 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 following tasks: 

  • ​Wet screen excavated dirt, identify and bag potential artifacts

  • 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 collections facility. 

Learn more about the Archaeology Volunteer position >>

​Heritage Docents

Heritage Docents help welcome visitors to Presidio Officers’ Club and guide visitors through nearby archaeological sites.

Learn how to become a Heritage Docent >>

Archaeology Internships

The Presidio Trust offers Archaeology Internships that provide a unique training opportunity in historical archaeology.

Learn more about the Archaeology Inte​rnship position >>​​​

To express your interest in participating in any of the above opportunities, send an email to​