Survey and Excavations in Joshua Tree National Monument: Report of the 1985 Joshua Tree Road Improvements Project

Author(s): Richard G. Ervin

Year: 1985


In the spring of 1985, archeologists from the Western Archeological and Conservation Center (WACC) conducted archeological investigations at Joshua Tree National Monument in sonthern California. This undertaking, which was designated project JOTR 85A in WACC files, was carried out in response to plans for repairing and widening the system of roads in the monument (Package 173). The JOTR 85A project was specifically connected to Phases II and III of the road repair project. Road construction for these phases will be carried out in Fiscal Years 1985 and 1986, respectively.

The JOTR 85A project involved archeological work ranging from the preliminary survey of several areas in the construction right-of-way, to test excavations at a previously recorded archeological site. Surveys were carried out in eight campgrounds that had not been investigated as part of the original archeological clearance project conducted in 1979 (Simpson 1981). A proposed materials borrow pit along the Pinto Wye Wash was also surveyed. Cultural resources found in the survey areas consisted of eight artifact scatters or features. No further archeological work is recommended for these resources, all of which either lie outside the construction areas or can be easily avoided during construction.

Archeological investigations were also carried out at the Anaconda Mine (Site 4-SBR-4208), an historic period gold mine located in an area that may be affected by Fiscal Year 1985 construction. The site was carefully mapped using a plane table and alidade. The boundaries of the site were accurately delineated, and 77 cultural features were identified. Information about these features was recorded, and each was photographed. Selected features were mapped, and collections were made at those features where artifacts were present. Three clusters of features were identified. One consisted of mining features (prospectsand shafts), the second was made up of mining features and structural features (tent platforms), while the third area contained the remains of several habitation or office structures. Because the area to be affected by road reconstruction contains no significant cultural features or artifact concentrations, it is recommended that no further archeological work be carried out at 4-SBR-4208 in connection with Package 173 road construction.

Archeological investigations were also carried out at a prehistoric site, 4-RIV-1961. A contour map of the site was made, using a plane table and alidade. The limits of the artifact scatter were then delineated, and seven test pits were dug. One of the test pits exposed a Native American cremation. which was reburied. Charcoal from the feature dated to 200 B.P. +-90, calibrated to A.D. 1485 to A.D. 1950, or about A.D. 1720 +-230. Moderately dense concentrations of flaked stone artifacts were also found at 4-RIV-1961. but relatively few ceramic artifacts were present. It is thought that 4-RIV-1961 represents a limited activity, special-purpose site that was intermittently occupied. Part of the occupation dates to the ceramic period, and it is thought that another part of the assemblage may date to the Archaic period. Although no further archeological work is recommended for site 4-RIV-1961, precautions must be taken while rebuilding the road segment in the vicinity of the site, so as to avoid damaging significant cultural resources.

Cite this Record

Survey and Excavations in Joshua Tree National Monument: Report of the 1985 Joshua Tree Road Improvements Project. Richard G. Ervin. Publications in Anthropology ,32. Tucson, Arizona: Western Archeological and Conservation Center. 1985 ( tDAR id: 4270) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8639NBR

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Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 0 to 1900

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min long: -116.494; min lat: 33.665 ; max long: -115.249; max lat: 34.132 ;

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