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Rail tunnel dig yields 1880s Seattle sidewalk

A Rainier Beer bottle. A kitschy ceramic cup and a silver spoon. Thirty-one men’s, women’s and children’s shoes. No one would be shocked to find these things in any Seattle family’s basement. But it’s a little more surprising to find them packed under 38 feet of dirt downtown.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014778968_artifacts14m.html

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Another interesting article from Knute Berger: http://crosscut.com/2011/04/06/mossback/20778/Dead-end-discoveries-/

Some highlights:

The curmudgeon factor is pretty high at any meeting of archaeologists. You’ve got a lot of smart people who spend years on their knees in the dirt studying tiny broken objects, and when they look up, they often notice how little anyone cares, and how wrong their colleagues are.”

One problem is that when a public agency, say Agency X, decides to build a dam or tunnel or bridge, managers hire consultants, including archaeologists, to do environmental-impact assessments to see what the impacts are, and whether they are damaging. But Agency X gets to decide the scope of the project, define terms of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and hire the consultants who do the work. How many private archaeological firms will flourish for long if they make a habit of telling their clients what they don’t want to hear?”

“During a question-answer period at the conference, archaeologists complained that there was a lack of storytelling, of making their discoveries known and compelling to the people. They’re not talking about making the information available (like putting everything online) so much as making it understandable in the first place. The value of that is obvious. One, the people pay for much of the work, so they should get something for their money. Two, the knowledge of history, culture, and place can be very enlightening, entertaining, and enriching. Three, it would lead to better management of cultural resources. Four, it would reinforce the importance of the work and the laws that make it possible.”

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