‘Data recovery may compromise artifact sites’

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There are concerns that data recovery may compromise the integrity of archaeological sites.

After following up with a professor of environmental geology concerning questions about how a proposed water well facility at the Andersen Airforce Base would affect the island’s aquifer, let’s check in with another subject matter expert about how a training complex at Andersen South could affect some local heritage sites.

Dave Lotz, a retired cultural resources manager, said there’s a new sign at Andersen South saying that the area will be closed starting Sept. 19, 2019 because this area is going to become the Marine Corps training area.

According to a recently released programmatic agreement memo from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the Andersen South Urban Combat Training Complex will involve a number of activities once operational — including hand grenade and breaching exercises, urban and jungle troop maneuvers, and vehicle course for convoy maneuvers.

Because some of these exercises will involve walking over terrain or moving heavy field equipment, the memo says that there is a risk that surface artifacts present within the area may be dislodged.

The memo says that there are currently five historic sites that have been identified, including three Latte period artifact scatters, a second American Administration site, as well as remnants of a Latte set.

“I think it’s very interesting that there are interior upland Lattes around Guam. This Latte was partially removed when this road was put in. Probably the late 1940s, early 1950s,” Lotz said.

Lotz expressed his concern about the memo’s recommendation for the sites to undergo data recovery, which he says may compromise the integrity of each location as it involves the excavation of archaeological sites to gather information about the artifacts within the area.

“It is a good way to learn a little bit about the future, but in that process and what follows, the site will be destroyed. Again, I feel like there’s no substitute for preserving our heritage sites so that people can go out and get a good understanding of what our heritage means,” Lotz said.

Lotz encourages the public to look over the programmatic agreement documents which can be found on the Guam Legislature’s website under the “Directory” tab as well as submit comments concerning the project. The comment period for the project will be open until October 9, 2019.

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Amanda Dedicatoria
Amanda is a reporter at the Pacific News Center and writes about issues concerning the military, environment, and education. She has a background in journalism that spans from her time as a VIBE intern for the Pacific Daily News and the editor-in-chief of Triton’s Call. As a college student, she studied journalism and graduated with honors from the University of Guam. She also has experience in photography as well as documentary work and strives to make sure that her stories are fair and engaging. When she isn’t on the job, she’s usually at the gym, playing video games, or baking a batch of cookies.