Par for the course?

When the USF golf teams new training facility was constructed this summer and the existing training building was demolished, the land being disturbed was not just a part of USFs golf course, The Claw.

The golf course also contains known prehistoric archaeology sites places where humans lived thousands of years ago and left evidence of their habitation.

Because the sites are on state-owned land, archaeology professor Nancy White said, there are laws against disturbing it without prior approval and in some cases, archaeological surveying to protect and preserve cultural artifacts.

Yet archaeologists were not contacted about construction plans until a month after planning began, so the time available for them to work at the site was limited, Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Historical Resources (FDHR), said.

USF, he said, should have consulted an archaeologist earlier in the buildings planning stages so that there could be a reasonable plan to manage the cultural resources impacted by the building.

White said the excavation of the area from May to July, which was preceded by surface inspection in March and pushed back from its April start date because of bad weather and construction difficulties, was rushed because there was not adequate time to solely use more common archaeological methods, such as digging with shovels.

Instead, the team, comprising White; Deena Woodward, a graduate student who led the beginning of the project; and student volunteers, had to rely primarily on heavy construction machinery for faster digging a process that could have caused damage.

Yet according to a statement to The Oracle from Karla Willman, assistant director of communications for USF Facilities Planning and Construction, the new building was not on an archaeological site, but outside of the boundaries.

The site permit was originally issued by FDHR for a utility line, not the building area, which would run across the known site, her statement said.

The new golf facility which includes a fitness center, showers, locker rooms, a team lounge, coaches offices and indoor hitting bays was funded by a $1.3 million donation in April 2011 from the parents of sophomore mens golfer Adam Chowdhari.

Planning of the building began in December 2011, according to Willmans statement. USF archaeologists were contacted about the construction plans in January, and the site permit was issued by the FDHR in April.

White said one question on the Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) form, which is required for many construction projects in Florida, pertains to protecting cultural resources and archaeological sites. The form asks whether known historical or archaeological sites exist on the land to be developed and what measures can be taken to reduce impact to the sites.

However, Willman said USF is not required to complete DRI forms for new construction projects.

The archaeological site on the golf course was discovered by USF archaeology students in the 1960s during construction around an astronomical observatory building, which was renovated and used as USFs former golf training facility, and contains evidence that humans lived there as far as 5,000 years ago, according to the project report.

Another site, Buck Hammock, is located in woods to the east of the golf course, and is a burial mound, a sacred place for prehistoric Indians, White said.

The location of the new golf training facility is southwest of known prehistoric sites, though, according to the report, since neither site has been extensively excavated, the boundaries are tentative.

White, Woodward and students monitored construction where the golf training facility was to be built, in a large hole dug for a sewage lift station and in trenches for sewer and irrigation lines.

Shovel testing, a method for looking at soil layers in sections of an area of land, was done where the old training building, which was torn down, was located.

During excavation, which was only done in places where land was disturbed for construction, White said volunteers collaborated with construction workers to monitor and pause construction, do some digging by hand and screen dirt for artifacts.

Christine Bergmann, a senior majoring in anthropology who volunteered at the site, said a machine would scoop up soil and place it next to the trenches. Then, using shovels, the soil could be placed onto wire mesh screens, where it was sifted for artifacts.

We were lucky because we did find some things that were indicative of people being there in the past, she said.

White said the team also looked for features evidence of human habitation that could not be removed from the site such as posts from buildings, garbage pits, fire pits and burials.

But these were not found in the areas excavated.

What we found is most of the layers on the golf course were already disturbed, White said.

Previous golf course construction took place when state laws concerning cultural resources were not as strict, she said.

Filler material had been dumped in, she said, and only at the bottoms of trenches, several feet into the ground, were soil layers undisturbed from when Native Americans lived there.

Artifacts such as stone tools, including two projectile points, and ceramic pieces were found, as well as flakes produced from when stone tools were created, she said. The shapes and style of the points were used to date the site, according to the archaeological report, to between 4,000 and 1,500 years ago. Ceramic pieces dated from 2,000 to 1,000 years ago.

White said the information gleaned from this project is helpful for understanding the lives of past humans, including how they reacted to climate and environmental changes.

Were getting information that is very useful, very practical data you can use so that you can understand our world, she said.

But the process, she said, was one that USF could learn from.
It was done as well as we could, but for future projects, USF realizes now that by state law, they will have to do the professional archaeology first before they start digging with the heavy equipment machines or before they start construction, White said.

She said the use of the large machines could have caused damage.

The good news is that it was just a small part of the whole site, she said.

According to the projects final report to FDHR and the USF Facilities Planning and Construction Office, not all of the dirt was able to be screened because of construction time limitations, and not too much (of the site) was damaged because of the construction.

According to the project report, FDHR and USF are working to finalize a Memorandum of Agreement to preserve the site.