Past and Future Collide: Archaeologists On Hand at Kings Arena Site

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Sacramento’s past and future collide at the site of the new downtown arena.

Construction crews have Safiya Bal, an archaeological monitor for Environmental Science Associates (ESA), on hand as they dig the bowl that will soon become the Kings’ new court.

Thousands will sit in the new arena starting in 2016, but it’s also the spot where Bal made an interesting find.

“I found a stoneware-type bottle,” she said. “Kind of like tan, yellowish colored.”

It turns out that bottle dates back to 1880, just 30 years after Sacramento was incorporated.

“We’ve also found things from the 1960’s that appeared probably when they were putting up downtown plaza on this project site,” ESA representative Christina Erwin said.

Those are among hundreds of items that have been unearthed so far. Is it possible for something other than bottles and brick to be found?

“There have been prehistoric sites and some burials in this general area
within a quarter mile radius of this project area, so there is potential to find that because of where we are, with the water resources being so close, and people have just been living in this area for a long time,” Bal told FOX40.

So far, Bal says, no bones have been found.

Bal isn’t the only person monitoring the site. Representatives from the Shingle Springs Rancheria frequent the site to keep an eye on what’s being unearthed.

The Rancheria is a federal recognized tribe of the Maidu and Miwok people.

“We first have to determine if the bone is animal or human in nature,” Erwin said. “If it’s human in nature, we would contact the coroner and then determine next steps about contacting the tribe.”

Last month, in an effort to keep such discoveries from ending up desecrated or on eBay, California’s Native-American Heritage Commission sent letters to Sheriff-Coroners and media outlets across the state asking for the location of possible finds to be kept secret.

“Once something  is lost in the historic record and it’s dug up and it’s destroyed, it’s lost for good,” Erwin said. “We can’t replicate history.”

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