Research Project

Monaghan, John

Archaeological Testing and Field Work for Tarak Ridge, Mount Mariveles, Republic of the Philippines

Principal Investigator
Monaghan, John
Funding Source
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Abstract

Generally there has been little archaeological work on steep terrain. Part of the reason is that sites are less frequently located on slopes. But slopes also have characteristics that make the application of standard research practices difficult. Slopes have high erosion rates so materials will be carried away and disappear. Artifacts may also be buried by landslides. Unlike horizontal topography where everything is at the same elevation, slopes require that archaeological units stagger down the site. Therefore a special strategy needs to be developed for archaeological work on slopes that mimics the angle of incline and takes into account the complex geomorphic processes that are characteristics of slopes. The Stone site uniquely offers the opportunity to refine and develop methods for archaeological research on steep slopes. A great deal of material associated with the Stone site is metallic in nature. This metallic material will be in all shapes, sizes and weight. The UIC researchers will use metal detectors on the slope to plot the distribution of metallic artifacts. This plotting of artifacts will allow the archaeologists to define the boundaries of the site, and they will be able to test a number of hypothesis. For example, if the slope is subject to sheet wash, one would expect that erosion will deposit lighter materials much further away from their original location than heavier materials. If the site is subject to slumps, where large blocks of material will be relocated down slope, one can hypothesize that it will be a copy of the stratigraphy and artifact distribution of the part of the slope where it originated. If the slope is subject to slides, one would expect that the artifacts will not be sorted by size or weight. There are clearly properties that are unique to metal artifacts, but since the metal will come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and weights and the chronology of the site is known, the findings on how erosion has effected the distribution of metal materials should be generalizable to artifacts composed of other materials in similar conditions.