cultural resource management archaeological consultation

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Fort Craig Post Cemetery Recovery Project, Socorro County, New Mexico

CLIENT: Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation

The Bureau of Reclamation, Albuquerque Area Office, retained Four Corners Research to conduct a full excavation of the Fort Craig Post Cemetery and to help collect evidence relating to Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) violations associated with the removal of archaeological deposits and human remains. As part of the process, Four Corners Research conducted remote sensing studies, extensive archival investigations, and complete excavation of the cemetery. Considerable evidence was recovered regarding the looting activities during the course of excavating 220 graves. Because the military had exhumed most of the burials in 1876 and 1885, many of the graves were found to be empty coffins. However, 65 individuals were discovered, with at least 12 exhibiting evidence of having been disturbed by looters.

The efforts were conducted jointly with a team of archaeologists and physical anthropologists from the Bureau of Reclamation. All data and report components have been submitted to Reclamation, who is compiling the final report. As part of the documentation process, a DVD was produced: Helluva Way To Treat A Solder, which is available through the Bureau of Reclamation. Four Corners Research conducted all excavations by first using its backhoe to strip the cemetery and expose each grave. Looting was so extensive, individual graves could no longer be recognized on the surface. This process proved highly effective and enabled the archaeologists to focus on excavating each grave without removing excessive amounts of overburden by hand.

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Find out more about the Fort Craig excavations on Vimeo.