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Open house for Observatory Hill archaeological dig

18 June 2003

ATTENTION: Feature and photo editors

Contact: Kathleen Maclay
(510) 643-5651 ckm@pa.urel.berkeley.edu

An open house, photo and artifact displays, and a question-and-answer session with the crew of the University of California, Berkeley's Observatory Hill archaeological dig and Summer Sessions field school.

10 a.m.- 3 p.m., today, Wednesday, June 18.

Observatory Hill, just southwest of North Gate Hall, which is on the corner of Hearst and Euclid avenues.

Laurie Wilkie, UC Berkeley associate professor of anthropology, will be on hand with 35 students and graduate assistants. They will discuss and exhibit their findings from almost five weeks of excavating and investigating the remains of observatory buildings and a conservatory erected in 1886 and 1891, respectively. The conservatory was razed in 1924 to make way for a road. The observatory was torn down in 1973.

The former conservatory - a big glass flower house - was similar to one about to reopen at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, and both were built by the same company. Students have visited the Golden Gate Park site, and park conservatory officials have inspected the students' dig.

Working with the assistance of UC Berkeley'sCapital Projects and the Archaeological Research Facility, Wilkie and her students have found deep portions of the conservatory's brick walls, along with ceramic cups and saucers, old beer and Dr. Pepper bottles, piping, terra cotta flower pots, and the bones of butchered and cooked animals.

Wilkie says the conservatory probably was the site of many social events and "would have been a beautiful location for that sort of thing."

The field school location, at the future site of the Chang-Lin Tien East Asian Library, provides commentary about how UC Berkeley saw itself in the '20s, and how it shifted from a Victorian mind-set to "something different," Wilkie says.


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