Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

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By Enah Fonseca Ibarra and Gabriela Inés Mejía Appel

Like any other science, Archeology goes hand-in-hand with a continuous learning process, regardless of whether you are a student or an experienced researcher. The archeological work, in a country with the natural and historical characteristics as Mexico, is never-ending. Furthermore, this heritage belongs to every Mexican by law, and its protection and investigation starts with their location.

For this reason, the project ¨Estudio de campamentos en la línea costera y valles intermontanos of Baja California¨ (“Camp studies on the coast line and intermountain valleys of Baja California”) made the decision of joining both activities during the 2017 field season, with the participation of students of the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH in Spanish). This group conducted a surface survey to identify and register the archaeological areas located in the nature reserves of Valle Tranquilo, Punta Mazo and Monte Ceniza in the south area of Ensenada, areas protected by the Mexican non-profit Terra Peninsular.

So far…

The surface survey consists of a series of techniques that are essential for the identification and registration of archaeological areas and environmental characteristics that let us have a better understanding of past societies from a bicultural perspective. This is a first step towards the development of research projects on subjects such as paleodemography, settlement pattern, people and objects movement routes, and predictive models. In addition, it is a stepping-stone towards the selection of suitable areas for systematic excavation purposes. If we see things from the archaeological sites preservation perspective, the surface survey allows the identification of agents of destruction, whether they are a threat to nature or culture, with the purpose of generating efficient protection strategies.

This project is not about wandering, there is a previous research work that compiles bibliographic information (archaeology, ethnohistory, and ecology related), reports on previous projects, registration cards, cartographic material in different scales and styles, satellite images obtained using the Google Earth platform, and legal records.

The survey area was divided into quadrants of half a mile approximately, based on the topographic map 1:50000 scale provided by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI in Spanish). From this map, a stratified random sampling was conducted to make a selection of the quadrants that would be researched each day. The surface survey was performed in transects with 30 feet approximately of distance between one another for a better control of sites identification and the total detection of contexts.

Once the camp areas were identified, the site card for the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH in Spanish) was filled, pictures were taken and a detailed description of the areas characteristics and their main elements was performed, this with the main purpose of having a record as thorough as possible.

This surface survey that took place from June 15 to July 15 2017, resulted in the registration of 40 archaeological sites. The highest percentage of sites were found in Punta Mazo Nature Reserve (40%), followed by Valle Tranquilo (33%) and to a lesser extent Monte Ceniza (23%). The remaining percentage belongs to two sites located on the borders of these nature reserves.


This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Mediterranews

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