Archaeological Field School at the Erma Hayman House

NOTE: The River Street Public Archaeology Project will be conducted in the Summer of 2015.

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Recent archaeological excavations at Fort Boise are an example of what could take place in River StreetIntroducing the River Street Public Archaeology Project

Permission to conduct an archaeological field school at the Erma Hayman House in the River Street Neighborhood has been granted by the Capitol City Development Corporation (CCDC)! Dr. Mark Warner, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Idaho, has agreed to organize the field school for the summer of 2015. Excavations will attempt to:

  • Determine the presence or absence of intact archaeological deposits in the River Street Neighborhood
  • Define the location, integrity, and extent of archaeological materials on this property
  • Collect information on life in the River Street Neighborhood during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
  • Provide information that can be used to guide the CCDC’s historic preservation efforts.

The field school will be six weeks long, running from 5/26 through 7/3/2015. In the process of earning six college credits, students will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn basic archaeological method and theory
  • Participate in archaeological excavations at a historical site
  • Prepare artifacts for curation
  • Facilitate ethnographic interviews with the descendant community
  • Work with volunteers on this ground-breaking heritage conservation project
  • Hear presentations by some of Boise’s most prominent historians and archaeologists

Contact Dr. Mark Warner to learn more about this six-credit college course mwarner(at), contact the Department of Sociology and Anthropology socanth(at), or call (208)885-6751.

The archaeological field school will also have an accompanying public archaeology component where volunteers will have the chance to:

  • Help reclaim this unwritten piece of Boise’s heritage
  • Participate in archaeological excavations
  • Be part of the “history creation” process as you find items that haven’t been seen in generations
  • Learn about how archaeology works and what it can contribute to local history

If you are interested in volunteering at this site, feel free to contact Marc Munch with the Idaho Archaeological Society.

You can see a summary of what the summer excavation goals are at the CCDC website:

Previous Public Archaeology Projects in Boise

Public interest in Boise urban archaeology has remained strong since the 1970s. Recent investigations by the University of Idaho at the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House and at Fort Boise have been well received by the community. Hundreds of Boiseans visited these digs. Dozens volunteered at them.

University of Idaho archaeology at Fort Boise on KTVB
Check out KTVBs coverage of the University of Idaho’s public archaeology project at Fort Boise:

River Street as an Archaeological Sensitivity Zone

What remains of the residential neighborhood fabric of River Street has been compromised by development during the twentieth century. Few residential dwellings exist. Previous attempts to create a historical district in River Street have not been realized (for more information see Susan M. Stacy’s report “River Street Reconnaissance Survey” (1995). It is a document on file at the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office.) While cultural resources surveys have documented the fragmentary nature of the River Street Neighborhood as a historical resource based on its value as a part of the built environment, archaeological remnants of the neighborhood are likely to exist. The City of Boise and CCDC could create a regulatory framework that prioritizes the recovery and analysis of archaeological remains within the historical boundaries of the River Street Neighborhood. Preservation strategies like this exist in several other cities across the United States (For example, the City of Tucson has established zoning overlays that force archaeological monitoring or evaluation within eleven areas across the city

Establishing an archaeological sensitivity zone within the historical River Street Neighborhood would be a step towards preserving and reclaiming the heritage of this rapidly vanishing place.