Archaeologists were livid this week after a Marin developer paved over an ancient 4,500 year-old Native American site that is believed to hold over a million unexamined artifacts. Scientists have been secretly excavating the site for about 18 months, but claim they need more time to adequately comb through what is believed to be the last untouched site of its kind in the Bay Area. Tribal authorities, developers and local officials, however, said that all state regulations governing these situations were followed to the letter.
Located in the city of Larkspur, the Indian burial ground was discovered in 2010 when a local developer began construction of a $55 million luxury home development. A pile of shells was found on the site almost immediately, and the find was linked with the Miwoks, a group of Native American tribes that inhabited Northern California several thousand years ago. A hundred years ago, archaeologists claim, there were over 500 Miwok sites throughout the region. Upon finding the initial artifacts, the developer called in scientists to study the find, in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. Conducted by Holman & Associates Archaeological Consultants, early examinations of the site were kept from the broader scientific community until last month.
Among the artifacts reportedly discovered at the Larkspur site were the burial sites of about 600 people, musical instruments, stone tools and other items. According to the law, the decision on how the artifacts are handled and what happens to them belongs to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, a group of 1,300 Native Americans believed to be the Coastal Miwoks’ likeliest descendants. The group declined to approve the use of DNA testing on the artifacts, and ordered them reburied on-site. With the Federation’s approval, the developer continued work on the development.