UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and one of its research associates have won a prestigious statewide award for high-tech mapping efforts at a local private cemetery that dates to California's rancho era in the mid-1800s.
Using ground-penetrating radar, the team has identified 15 possible grave sites, as well as a potential mass burial pit, at the Pascual Marquez Family Cemetery in Santa Monica Canyon, whose original wooden grave markers have disintegrated.
Project participants will receive the Governor's Historic Preservation Award on Jan. 20 at a formal ceremony in Sacramento along with 11 other award winners statewide.
Roberta Deering, who served on the awards jury, described the Cotsen research as "one of the most innovative, integrative and educational — in the broadest sense of the term — projects I've come across in my 30-plus years in historic preservation."
The results are being used by Marquez descendants to develop a restoration plan for the site, which was declared a historic-cultural monument in 2000 by the city of Los Angeles.
"We're really excited," said Shauna Mecartea, assistant director of the Cotsen. "This project vividly demonstrates the value that UCLA provides to the community. It also illustrates what archaeology can mean for the present."
The team was led by Dean Goodman, a Cotsen research associate who specializes in archaeological remote-sensing technology and runs a private geoarchaeological lab.
"In 50 years, nobody is going to remember us, but they'll know about the people in the cemetery and the people who lived there and what life was like for them," Goodman said. "The real winner here is the public."