Projects

Below is a sampling of the projects GRA has been involved in, both in NYC and abroad.  For more details about these and other projects, please visit our website at http://gra-geoarch.com/projects/.

Riverside 2, NY

Riverside

In 2012 and 2013, GRA was contracted to conduct monitoring and Phase I and II survey for a development on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The property lies on the long-buried former bank of the Hudson River. GRA has documented the prehistoric surface of the island, waterfront posts within a small harbor dating to the first half of the 19th century, and 10,000 household artifacts pre-dating the turn of the century. GRA also documented a well-preserved stockyard pavement which was constructed in the last quarter of the 19th century, traces of the original Hudson River Railroad, the corner of a small stone building foundation, and a well. We are reconstructing the built and natural features of the local landscape in three dimensions, in order to analyze and illustrate the growth of the city over time.

GRA is presently in the final stages of analysis and reporting for this project.

New York Harbor, NY

NYHarbor

Geoarcheology Research Associates (GRA) was subcontracted by Hunter Research Inc. (HRI) under contract to Barry Vittor & Associates to develop a geomorphological and archaeological model of the submerged paleoenvironment for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New York District in connection with the New York and New Jersey Harbor Navigation Project, Port of New York and New Jersey.

Because of the broad reach of the impact area, the USACE formulated a regionally based strategy for fulfilling its compliance responsibilities based on the hypothesis that Holocene sea level rise systematically drowned landscapes that would have sustained archaeological sites when coastlines extended to the edge of the Continental Shelf. A key objective of the study was to track the landward migration of the shoreline over the past 12,000 years. Pilot field studies involved deep testing efforts to develop a baseline for the submerged stratigraphy and cultural resource potential for New York Harbor and to mitigate impacts to specific segments scheduled for channel widening.

The goal of most recent study was twofold. First, it assembled previous data from earlier studies by GRA and others to expand upon the baseline stratigraphic and archaeological sensitivity models presented in previous reports. A critical assessment of the boring logs and data identified the most critical gaps in the current subsurface data record as based on the preliminary model of landscape change and archaeological resource potential. Additional subsurface data needed to develop a comprehensive human and natural landscape model were acquired. The second goal was a systematic integration of spatial landscape data to enable planners and scientists to make key decisions on cultural resource sensitivity issues. To date, various data sets have been assembled by diverse research groups that include soil scientists, Quaternary geologists, archaeologists, and marine biologists among others. Compilation of these data sets is most effectively attained by the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping technology.

GIS based data sets focused on illustrating paleoenvironmental reconstructions that allow a scientifically-based assessment of archaeologically sensitive areas (with respect to deglaciation, sea level rise, paleogeography, and the effects of marine erosion). The study provided digitized data sets for planners to view the entire project area as an impact zone and to further assist in prioritizing and developing compliance sensitive mitigation strategies for future harbor engineering and dredging projects.

2nd Avenue Subway

2ndAve

Geoarcheology Research Associates (GRA) was contracted to conduct geoarcheological investigations of buried landscapes on 2nd Avenue between E 92nd and E 99th Streets on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NY.

Objectives were to assess the archaeological potential of the buried landscapes associated with a historically documented estuary and marsh and/or near shore environments beneath it. The project area was known as Hellgate Bay until it was infilled and urbanized in the late 19th century. Investigations consisted of extensive background historical and geomorphic research, field collection of five (5) cores systematically placed along the linear project corridor, and laboratory studies focused on stratigraphic interpretations, radiometric dating, and pollen, macrofossil and molluscan identifications in support of environmental reconstruction.

Stratigraphies of the primary cores were linked with an extensive collection of previously excavated geotechnical borings. The buried sequences revealed intact successions of bedrock, thin Pleistocene tills and deeper lacustrine deposits that are overlain by middle to late Holocene estuarine sediments. These borings register one of the only intact Late Quaternary sequences ever documented for Manhattan Island. Environmental studies of the Holocene deposits show that in the project area Hellgate Bay was a subaqueous mudflat. Accordingly the potential for preservation of archeological deposits is low. While no archaeological materials were recovered this project produced a wealth of important information about pre-historic ecology and landscapes of New York City.

Iraq Mass Graves Team

Iraq

After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the extent of a systematic campaign of mass exterminations was exposed by United States and Iraqi authorities.

In June 2004, the United States Department of Justice, Regime Crimes Liaison Office (RCLO), Baghdad, tasked the United States Army Corp of Engineers, St. Louis District, Mandatory Center of Expertise for Archaeological Curation and Collections Management (MCX), to organize an archaeological team to undertake a large-scale exhumation and forensic analysis mission. The objective was to collect evidence in support of the prosecutions of former regime leaders. The ongoing trials are structured, in large part, by the results of these efforts. GRA participated in the mass graves recovery efforts, from 2005 through 2007, in various managerial capacities, working directly with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, St. Louis District, for the RCLO.

Archaeological forensics provided the umbrella for an efficient interdisciplinary strategy. This strategy began with remote sensing, geophysical prospection, and site discovery followed by systematic grave sampling, GIS based mapping, and rapid but meticulously provenienced data recovery including secure chain of evidence and custody. Subsequent in-country physical anthropology and material analyses provided prosecutors with evidence and expert testimony. Finally, a major emphasis was place on reconciling victims’ remains with families and tribal groups to provide some measure of closure to these tragic events.

Beas Survey, Pakistan

Beas

In cooperation with New York University, GRA assisted with the first major investigation of Indus Valley settlement outside the urban center of Harappa, the northern hub of the Indus Valley civilization in the Punjab Province, Pakistan.

With colleague Dr. Rita P. Wright, Dr. Schuldenrein and GRA staffconducted geoarcheological investigations of the Beas River drainage system identifying landscape elements and climatic cycles preceding and contemporaneous with human settlement in the Valley. Testing within and around previously undocumented mounds provided information regarding landscape development, site formation, and an articulation of human-landscape interactions during critical phases in the emergence, florescence, and decline of the Indus civilization. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Geographic, this multi-year project demonstrates the GRA commitment to problem-oriented archeological research and to the management of cultural resources worldwide.

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