The Costen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA and the La Senora Research Institute de Rancho Boca de Santa Monica conducted a two-day workshop combining science and history in the exploration of an early Los Angeles historical landmarked site.
The two-day workshop, which took place on January 16th and 17th, was held at La Senora’s Jose Mojica Hacienda with geophysical data collected from the Pascual Marquez family cemetery. The two sites are located on the land of the 1839 Mexican Land Grant Rancho Boca de Santa Monica in Santa Monica Canyon.
Researchers believe that the large archive of historical documents indicated that at least 30 or more individuals are buried at the Pascual Marquez family cemetery, yet only two tombstones remain visible above ground.
The team of internationally accomplished geophysics experts used ground penetrating radar (GPR) to locate graves within the boundaries of the cemetery. GPR surveys can detect subsurface features without drilling, probing, or digging. The equipment allows scientists to see below the ground without disturbing the site.
The GPR’s electromagnetic pulses will give researchers insight to both the nature of what is below the ground and how deeply it is buried. Two and three-dimensional images will be produced to map buried features. Participants in the workshop include: UCLA professors and researchers, archeologists, anthropologists, conservationists, ethnologists, geophysicists, graduate students in the fields of archeology and history, and supporters of the Cotsen and La Senora institutes; 4th graders from a nearby Canyon School, will help collect field data at the cemetery. At La Senora, the GPR experts will then lead participants through the two days of processing and interpreting these complex visual images, bringing together the scientists and historians to compare historic documents with the GPR results.
The aim for the workshop and study of this data is to learn the cemetery’s true boundaries and the burial locations so that preservationist can develop a restoration plan and eventually open it to the public. La Senora Research Institute de Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, a nonprofit group based in the canyon, is covering some of the costs. Other foundations and neighbors are also contributing.