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Stanford Archaeologists May Unearth Origins of Early SF


Presidio of San Francisco (July 9, 2003) — Stanford University archeologists begin today an extensive seven-week dig at the Presidio in search of 18th and 19th century artifacts that could trace the emergence of the City of San Francisco from its origins in the Presidio.

The team lead by Dr. Barbara Voss will excavate in the eastern part of the Presidio in a section called El Polin Spring, where known archeological deposits may date to the Spanish-colonial/Mexican period between 1776 and 1848.

It is an area where the people who once lived there were part of a larger community of the historic settlement of El Presidio de San Francisco. El Polin Spring was a major water source for early 18th and 19th century settlers. The spring still exits today.

It is believed that Juana, Maria de la Luz and Guadalupe Briones and their families, who played a prominent role in the development of early San Francisco, had established a residence in this area. Juana Briones was an astute businesswoman, landowner and healer who challenged the gender conventions of her time. Research also suggests that some Native Californians may have lived alongside the Briones family at El Polin Spring.

A major research theme that will be addressed through these investigations is the history of women’s participation in colonial military ventures and the roles played by Spanish-colonial women in the historical development of the City of San Francisco.

The excavation could provide new information about the living conditions and daily practices of the Briones family and other settlers during their residence at the Presidio, and will also contribute to a growing body of scholarship on the history of women in Spanish-colonial and Mexican California.

Today, El Polin Springs is a popular picnic area for visitors to the Presidio because of its quiet beauty and serene environment. The public is invited to view the excavation between 9 am and 4 pm during the week.

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Presidio Trust Media Relations

Lisa Petrie

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