MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Offering insight and educational opportunity for those stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, a ribbon was cut opening the doorway of the new Archeology and Paleontology Curation Center by Commanding General, Brig Gen. Douglas M. Stone, Wednesday.
The Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Division was authorized money to begin design work on the center more than two years ago.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, paleontology is a science dealing with the life of past geological periods as known from fossil remains. Archeology is defined as the scientific study of material remains, such as fossil relics, artifacts, and monuments, of past human life and activities and remains of the culture of a people.
“We analyzed the costs and determined that it was actually cheaper for us to build a repository at MCAGCC than it was to rent space for our artifacts at another Federally-approved facility,” said John Hale, archeologist and collections manager. “The result is our new Archeology and Paleontology Curation Center. It is essentially a warehouse with tight temperature and humidity controls. In addition to storing the artifacts, bones, stone tools, and other materials that we recover during the excavation process, we store all of our records there, including field notes, maps, photographs, and reports.
“Furthermore, we have some limited interpretive space in the entrance hallway and scattered throughout the building covering different periods in time,” he continued.
NREA, who is in charge of the center, is also in charge of making sure sites are excavated before units continue training in certain areas.
“We have two methods,” said Dr. Jim Cassidy, archeologist. “One is avoiding the site if it serves a function, and two is conducting archeological investigations. I will personally survey the cultural resource and make sure nothing is destroyed. If it is a big job, we will call in a contractor. We try and facilitate the mission while preserving and documenting all the resources we can.”
The center will be opened to Marines, their families, civilian visitors and employees.
The center will be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12 to 5 p.m. and the first and third Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. People are welcome to tour the facility during these times, said Dr. Marie Cottrell, natural resources officer.
There are over 1,600 archaeological sites on base. The center will showcase paleontological and archaeological materials gathered at those sites, along with historical documents used to investigate and track these discoveries.
“I think this is outstanding and very educational,” said Cpl. Bryan Istre, Headquarters Battalion. “I think all Marines should learn about the history of this base.”
While the center continues to grow with artifacts, it will continue to grow as an educational opportunity for those who pass through the Combat Center.
For more information on the Archeology and Paleontology Curation Center, call (760) 830- 7641.