On December 10, 1773, Father Palou of Mission San Antonio de Padua, wrote, “In this place the Mission is now with its church of adobe and flat roof mortar. Of the same material are the dwelling of the Fathers and the workrooms. There are other little houses constructed of wood and mud, such as the quarters for the guards, three little houses for as many soldiers married to neophyte women of the Mission, and the whole village of the neophytes constructed of poles and tules” (In Englehardt 1972:11, emphasis added).
It is this “village of the neophytes” that we seek to uncover through our current archaeological excavations at Mission San Antonio de Padua. Between the dates of June 25 and July 27, 2012, Dr. Chelsea Blackmore (UC Santa Cruz) and Dr. Sarah Peelo (Stanford University) will conduct an archaeological field school on location at Mission San Antonio de Padua. This is an intensive five-week methodology class in which students live and work (Monday – Friday) at the mission.
Our current archaeological research at this site has three main goals.
- The first is our exploration of the Indian Village, or the community of indigenous peoples living in traditional style houses associated with Mission San Antonio, specifically before 1809 when the adobe neophyte dormitories were built.
- The second is our development of a Community Archaeology project where our purpose is to engage diverse stakeholders in archaeological research at the mission.
- And third, we are working to develop a searchable database detailing our current and future work as well as the archaeological research conducted at this mission under the direction of Dr. Robert Hoover from 1976-2002. The goal of this database is to provide a user-friendly medium through which the public can harvest data, re-contextualize it, and make their own narratives.
This summer (2012) we will be bringing students out to the mission for a 5-week archaeological field school with hopes of beginning to address some of these project goals. This class introduces archaeological field technique and outlines a critical understanding of the methods and approaches by which archaeology and heritage are interpreted. During the course, students will be involved in all phases of field excavation, trained in lab processing, and encouraged to critically examine how archaeological knowledge is constructed and expressed. The course focuses on material culture produced during the Spanish Colonial period of California as well as issues related to the construction of race, ethnicity, and identity during moments of colonial contact. Through discussions and practical applications, students will develop a thorough understanding of how their work relates to the overall research design of the San Antonio de Padua Mission Archaeological Project. Students will also participate in public archaeology and community outreach. As part of the project’s research design, investigations are driven in-part by the interests and needs of the Salinan descendent community. Students will work with Native American tribal representatives, teach volunteers excavation methods, and develop workshops relevant to community needs. Students will live and work on site at the mission, which provides many amenities not available to most field schools including beds and showers!