Each year the Office of the State Archaeologist of Colorado (OSAC) sponsors an archaeological inventory ("survey") on a parcel of state property, typically during the June-August period when few classes are scheduled. The purposes of the survey are to provide field training in surveying techniques for PAAC volunteers, applicable toward certification requirements, and to help OSAC meet its statutory obligations to inventory land within Colorado. Previously undocumented archaeological and historical sites are discovered during the inventory, and added to OSAC’s database for use in future research.
Field training involves hiking across undeveloped lands in search of artifacts and features more than fifty years old. When such sites are discovered, volunteers are instructed in the production of sketch maps, filling out standard recording forms, plotting site locations on topographic maps, artifact illustration, etc. Credit toward certification is earned for the days spent under professional supervision (Certified Surveyor I), and for each site form which volunteers complete following the inventory (Provisional Surveyor). Final technical reports on the summer surveys held at Pike’s Stockade in Conejos County and Hermit Park in Larimer County describe the training survey program in greater detail as well as providing interpretations of those previous inventories. The Antelope Gulch slide presentation provides a progress report on a recently completed field project (hover the cursor over the orange thought bubble in the upper left corner of each slide for details).
The 2012 Summer Training Survey was conducted in the Pawnee Buttes area of eastern Weld County. Twenty-one volunteers participated for two to four days each, and helped record a total of 25 archaeological sites and 20 isolated finds dating from the range of the Early Archaic through the Historic period (6400 BC-AD 1960). Prehistoric tools such as projectile points, bifaces, scrapers, and gravers were observed on the survey, along with a few ground stone artifacts. Especially prevalent was debitage (flaking debris) from flintknapping activity involving use of locally available, diverse toolstone materials. These ancient sites appear to be the camps, tool manufacture/repair stations, and observation posts of hunting groups in pursuit of game such as bison and pronghorn. The Historic period record is not as abundant but features ranching- and farming-related sites including a couple of enigmatic earthen depressions.
Because PAAC training sites such as the Pawnee Buttes are in remote locations lacking public facilities of any sort, and involve hiking across somewhat rugged terrain, prospective participants must be in reasonably good physical condition. The ability to contend with hot summer days, bothersome insects, and generally primitive working conditions is a necessity. Volunteers must supply their own transportation, room and board, daypack and personal gear such as canteens, but there is no fee for participation. The Office of the State Archaeologist of Colorado (OSAC) supplies all surveying, recording and mapping equipment as well as the professional archaeologist(s) who supervises the volunteers.
Prospective participants must submit (or have previously submitted) a signed PAAC application form, and completion of the Basic Site Surveying Techniques, Colorado Archaeology, and Prehistoric Lithics Description & Analysis classes is highly recommended prior to field training. In general, the more PAAC classes one has completed the more rewarding the experience on the Summer Training Survey. However, if space is available, no classroom experience is required for participation on the survey. For the 2013 season, the survey will likely return to the Pawnee Buttes area in Weld County, but the final details have yet to be determined. Assuming our tentative dates of May 4-8 and May 21-24, 2013 are confirmed, applicants for the survey should identify on which specific dates they prefer to participate (two days minimum) and provide their mailing address, phone/fax, and e-mail address. The deadline for 2013 applications is April 9, 2013 for which prospective volunteers should contact the State PAAC Coordinator at 303-866-4671 or email@example.com