Friday, October 13, 2006

Wildfires expose artifacts

DESCANSO, Calif. - An oak tree was still burning nearby when Margaret Hangan made her way across a wildfire-scorched landscape and spotted to her delight a set of flat-topped granite boulders that served as kitchen counters in an ancient village 2,000 years ago.

Here are some interesting finds mentioned in the article.

Fires are a double-edged sword," said Richard Fitzgerald, an archaeologist for California state parks. "They can be very destructive, but after a big fire you can find new sites, even in areas that have been surveyed before."

Crews found an abandoned gold mining camp and an adobe homestead from the 1800s.

After a smaller fire there in June, they discovered a cave with rock art and a site with unusual beads made from freshwater shells.

Most finds are small, rock flakes left behind by hunters sharpening arrowheads, or piles of rich brown earth, called midden, that remain from prehistoric kitchen scraps.

In rare instances, fires unveil large structures. Archaeologists discovered fortress-like stone walls after a 2003 fire ravaged Cuyamaca State Park northeast of San Diego.

Reminds me of when I was younger and Dads neighbor would burn off the pasture next to us. My brothers and I would don our rubber boots and search the area to see what was left behind.

Never found an Indian village though we mostly found snakes, chipmunks, balls and rockets we had lost in the tall grass.

I can remember thinking how it must be like the surface of the moon, ash grey and barren.


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