Archaeology - History Beneath Your Feet
The Montana Heritage Commission's Archaeological Program is responsible for overseeing all ground disturbing activities on state property in Virginia City and Nevada City. The Archaeological Program identifies, monitors and excavates cultural heritage sites, which are threatened by needed construction or improvement projects. The cultural heritages sites in those cities come in many more forms than just standing historic structures, actually the most valuable cultural resources still remain mostly unknown as it lies beneath the back roads and now empty city blocks.
The history of the early days of Montana's richest gold placer town still has a lot to tell and the rest of the story can be told through the archaeological record. This usually gives us a better understanding of people's everyday lives, which is often not present in historical records. The archaeological record can also give us important information about the prehistory of the sites before the gold rush swept through the gulch.
As stewards to an important part of our history, the Archaeological Program, through excavations in the summer time, reaches out to the general public about what lies beneath our feet.
The program is currently staffed with one full-time archaeologist and seasonal contracted help when needed. But mostly the program relies on volunteer help and outreach programs like Elderhostel to accomplish various steps needed in the archaeological process, such as cleaning artifacts recovered in excavation or hosting a field school program to further investigate certain areas.
The Archaeological Program is guided by the Archaeological Management Plan, which details the various steps and procedures. The plan was drafted in accordance with federal and state laws in regards to the protection of Cultural Heritage Resources and other agreements. For more information about the Archaeology Program contact Kathleen McCourt, 406-843-5247, ext. 204, KMcCourt@mt.gov.