Saturday, February 12, 2011

Citywide Archaeology Meets Digital

If you don't have the tools but have the passion for archaeology in the 5 boroughs, you now have the power to unearth it through your computer. Besides uncovering landmark designation reports on the Landmarks Preservation Commission's website, you can now feed through their newly uploaded resource of 1,200 excavation sites citywide to date. The reports note site history, potential remnants, field testing, and the significance of what was uncovered. Shovel you way to treasures in your backyard.....


  1. No doubt your admirable goal is to make your readers aware of the research materials now available on the web, the metaphor of "unearthing" and "shoveling your way through treasures" puts those of us who try to protect archaeological sites in a dither. That said, it should be noted that most of the reports on file at the LPC and now on the web are site histories and assessments that indicate no need for archaeology and those that actually are excavation reports describe sites that have been cleared for development and are long built over. That does not detract from the history of these sites that can be quite compelling even if archaeology is not an issue.

  2. The LPC's new online database is certainly a treasure, and it's wonderful that you are publicizing this resource that will hopefully encourage people to learn more about the history of their neighborhood and the city. However, we strongly caution against literally digging (or "shoveling") without the assistance of trained professional archaeologists. Not only can excavation be physically dangerous to those who do the shoveling, but also it can result in a dangerous loss of history, if important details about the location of objects, soil types and conditions, etc. are not recorded. Excavation is destructive; once information is lost it cannot be recovered, and this information is the real treasure.
    Please encourage anyone interested in literally shoveling in their neighborhood to contact the LPC, who can put them in touch with local professional archaeologists. I also ecourage them to contact the Metropolitan Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association ( or Professional Archaeologists of New York City (
    --Meredith, President of PANYC

  3. Hi Joan & Meredith, Thank you for your comments! Phrases such as "unearthing" and "shoveling your way through treasures" backs up the title of the blog post, "Citywide Archaeology Meets Digital." It refers to the excavation reports that can be searched through "online." If people are curious about potential remnants at a site, they should only seek professional advice from archaeologists. The phrases were puns, and I hope this clarifies your concerns.