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Digging for Artifacts

Archeologists dig for artifacts at a Loudoun County Sanitation Authority site.

Archeologists will spend the next two or three weeks digging up artifacts dating back to the Early to Mid Archaic Period (8000-2000 B.C.) at a Loudoun County Sanitation Authority (LCSA) site.

Alain Outlaw, the principal archeologist for Archeological Cultural Resources, Inc., Williamsburg, Va., said he has found scrapers used on animal hides, arrow heads to kill animals and tool-making evidence. "Every site gives us new information about how they lived," he said.

Archeologists characterize this prehistoric time span as one of the least understood periods in America. The artifacts belonged to a 19th century farmstead and a prehistoric campsite, said Samantha Villegas, LCSA communications manager. They were found at the site of the proposed new Broad Run Water Reclamation Facility, near the intersection of Loudoun County Parkway and Smith Switch Road.

Tom Broderick, the facility's program manager, said some artifacts were found two years ago and this month's work represents the final stage of the recovery. The LCSA has been working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources on the project. "It was identified in a previous study, so we knew there was something there," he said. "But we didn't know the extent of the artifacts."

HE ESTIMATED about 1,000 artifacts are at the site.

Outlaw said his team started Sunday by removing topsoil. "We remove the plow zone until we find bedrock or natural clay," he said. "Then if we find any cultural deposits, we map them and sample them."

Broderick said the artifacts will be carbon-tested to better determine their age. The LCSA plans to display the artifacts in an education center inside the new administrative building, which will be built next year. The LSCA also will feature an outdoor interpretive area to educate the public about water's role in nature.

The archeological investigation is required by the National Historic Preservation Act and a federal wetlands permit associated with the construction.

The LCSA provides water and wastewater service to the unincorporated areas in eastern Loudoun County. It is financially independent of the county: Operations and capital improvements are funded by user fees.

SUPERVISOR Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) estimated the project will cost $45,000. "It's an example of how wasteful government regulations cause unbelievable expenditures," he said. "It's robbery for the people who pay for their water."

There are many areas of the world rich in archeological finds, he said. "Loudoun County is not one of them. Perhaps I'll get a rock or a hammer thrown my way, a pick ax, but right now I'm working on saving money."

Outlaw said he appreciated the sensitivity the LCSA has shown to the prehistoric and historic value of the land. "They are making sure nothing significant is destroyed before they build."