Privy to the Past

Privy to the Past : Archaeological Methods & Practice: An Educational Film Series


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This detailed and engaging documentary provides an outstanding introduction to the goals and methods of historical and urban archeology. It chronicles a major cultural resource management project conducted in advance of reconstruction of a freeway through West Oakland, California, after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The video follows the archaeologists as they excavate and interpret structures, features, and objects of 19th century Oakland. It shows how the archaeologists use historical documents, tax records, insurance maps, and oral history interviews with descendants to broaden and corroborate the archaeological finds.The difficulties of conducting excavation in urban settings, as well as the importance of cultural resource management work, are also demonstrated in the film. West Oakland was one of America's first integrated cities, a working class community at the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad. Finds from the excavation show the diverse life ways of the various ethnic communities inhabiting Oakland a century ago and point to differences in material culture based on class and gender. An essential resource for students in historical archeology, urban archeology, and field methods courses. The project was sponsored by the California Department of Transportation and Sonoma State University.

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  • DVD Audio | 2 pages
  • 139.7 x 20 x 19.05mm | 113.4g
  • Left Coast Press Inc
  • Walnut CreekUnited States
  • English
  • 159874299X
  • 9781598742992

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Author Information

Janet Pape is San Francisco Branch Office Chief Archaeologists for the California Department of Transportation. Adrian Praetzellis is Professor of Anthropology at Sonoma State University.

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Review quote

The project did a good job emphasizing the potential of urban archaeology. It will prove useful both as an introduction to historical archaeology classes and a supplement to the historical archaeology component of an archaeological methods and theory class. -Kenneth Kelly, Univ. South Carolina

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