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NEWS | Nov. 30, 2016

Environmental breaks ground on excavations

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Throughout the month of November, archeologists from the 733rd Civil Engineer Division Environmental Element and other contractors started excavations on three new sites at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

Archeologists and their teams began excavations after referencing the installation records and maps provided by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Dig tests were then performed by making one meter by one meter holes approximately 25 to 50 feet apart to look for artifacts and any clues that indicate the historic significance of the location.

“Surveys on these areas were done in the 1980s when the sites were found, so now we’re trying to determine if these sites have the potential to yield significant historical information and if they are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places,” said Andrew Wilkins, Louis Berger archeologist. “Our job is to figure out if they are important. That’s a matter of doing some more shovel testing a little closer together so we can find out where there are concentrations of artifacts.”

Performing these excavations and recording their results help archeologists and installation leadership make future decisions on the proper methods for maintaining these areas.

“It’s important for the general public to know and for the Department of Defense to explain that we have these significant places of American history and we take care of them,” said Christopher McDaid, 733rd Civil Engineer Division Environmental Element cultural resources manager and archeologist. “If we decide that this is a significant archeological site and someone, at one point, decides they want to use that area and perform construction, we have meetings to decide the best way to preserve the area in the safest manner.”

According to McDaid, the significant archeological and historical sites are taken into account during the planning process on the installation.

The archeologists found a few small projectile points and stone tools at these sites, which tell experts that they, most likely, date back to the Archaic period.

“Our studies tell about all people that lived in this area so the whole American experience can pretty much be experienced by looking at the archeological sites here at JBLE,” said McDaid. “We have sites on this installation where people lived 10,000 years ago. We have sites where English colonists lived in 1618. The real takeaway is that all of Joint Base Langley-Eustis has significant pieces of American history on them.”