January 24, 2020
Forty years ago, a humble museum opened at the site of a former muffler shop.
This weekend, the Albinger Archaeological Museum on Main Street in Ventura celebrates its history and the city and the people who called it home for millennia with a series of free events called “Dig into History.”
The city-owned Albinger opened Jan. 24, 1980. It holds 30,000 artifacts from as long ago as 3,500 years of the people and cultures rising from the environs, notably the Chumash.
“We call the objects artifacts, but they’re really voices from the past. It’s the history of these people,” said archaeologist John Foster, who spent two years digging the site and several more processing what was found. “Their words are still present in the artifacts and context of where they were found.”
Foster, of the archaeological firm Greenwood and Associates, will be on hand each day of the anniversary celebration to talk about his work and to demonstrate archaeological techniques.
He will be joined by a host of other presenters and groups such as Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, chairwoman of the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians; and the Ventura County Chinese-American Association.
Organized by the city and the Museum of Ventura County, “Dig into History” began Friday and is set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The public is invited to participate in the talks and hands-on activities such as loom weaving.
On Sunday, Foster will be joined by fellow archaeologist Brianna Rotella to discuss the “crisis” in local and regional archaeology. He will make the case, in part, of the need to continue archaeological studies in the region to ensure more artifacts and their stories aren’t lost.
The museum, named for former Mayor Albert R. Albinger, would never have happened if not for a group of locals who advocated for the archaeological work, Foster noted.
He credited Robert Lopez, a former archaeology professor at Moorpark College, and amateur archaeologists Robert Browne and Myrle Kirk for spotting demolition work in the area and calling on the city to conduct the studies.
They were part of what became known as the Mission Plaza Archaeological Project.
“Most people aren’t aware that a couple local citizens were a lightning rod for saving the archaeology,” he said.
What was unearthed were items from prehistoric natives, the Chumash, the Spanish, the Mexicans, the Americans and the Chinese.
“The sheer scale of the history that you can, as a researcher and historian and an interested person, you can go to one place and touch different cultures and be able to access those materials,” Foster said.
Among the collection inside the Albinger are stone bowls, beads, arrowheads, bone whistles, crucifixes, bottles, buttons and pottery.
Outside, visitors will find the foundations of the original mission church, Native American barracks, a reproduction tomol or native wooden canoe, and a water filtration mission building considered the oldest standing structure in Ventura County.
Foster said researchers are still learning new information from the finds because of emerging technology by microscopic analysis of proteins that can go beyond dating by year and into specific seasons.
“These new techniques we didn’t have available 10 years ago,” he said.
The museum is located at 113 E. Main St. and open Fridays through Sundays 11 a.m to 4 p.m. For more information about the event and the museum, visit https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/albinger.
Read the full article at VCStar.com.