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Lunch lecture highlighted Pajarito Plateau

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May 29 marked the first presentation of the year in a series of informal, brown bag lunch lectures taking place in the Bradbury Science Museum Auditorium.
The first lecture, “A Little Bird Told Me: The Prehistory of the Pajarito Plateau,” was hosted by Dr. Jennifer E. Payne, a Team Leader for the archaeologists and cultural resources managers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In honor of National Heritage Preservation Month, the presentation focused on the high density of archaeological sites present on LANL property and the archeologists’ role in preserving these sites.
“I have been involved in many successful archaeological projects during my time at the laboratory. The Land Conveyance and Transfer Project excavations from 2002-2006 allowed us to learn a lot about the prehistory of the Pajarito Plateau. We also had the privilege of developing professional relationships with Tribal Monitors from the Pueblo de San Ildefonso and Santa Clara Pueblo. That experience is one of the highlights of my time at the laboratory,” Payne said of her work at LANL.
There are a total of about 2,000 historical properties on LANL territory, which is equal to one site per every six hectares (roughly 600 acres) of land. Employed archaeologists are required by federal law to identify, evaluate, and protect cultural resources eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation.
In an effort to do just that, archaeologists take up responsibilities such as ensuring appropriate management of the lands, identifying and helping avoid impacts of both natural and lab-related causes to these cultural resources, mitigating impacts, supporting the DOE in consulting culturally affiliated Pueblos, and, most importantly, keeping the community updated on what is going on.
Within the year, they plan on updating displays at the museum in order to showcase some of their work, such as an intensive mitigation project which took place between 2002 and 2007.
“Education and outreach to the public and to the people who live in these communities benefits everyone and helps people to understand the importance of the effective management and protection of cultural resources,” Payne said.
For those interested in visiting some of the archaeological sites, tours are available on a yearly basis, but fill up quickly.
“We have held a few Brown Bag lectures at lunchtime at the Bradbury before, and they had been well-attended. For these presentations, we’ll have speakers either currently from the lab or retired, who will speak about lab projects for a general public audience. Lunchtime is a good time; many people in the area can get away from work for an hour, and we invite them to bring and eat their lunch if they’d like. We hope to present one every month; we’ll send out news releases and publicize it through our website,” Linda Deck, Bradbury Science Museum Director, said of the program.
Lectures can also be viewed on LANL’s
YouTube channel,
LosAlamosNationalLab.
-Ada Ciuca