discovery by University of California, Berkeley, archaeology
students of artifacts from the campus's historic Zeta
Psi fraternity. Items include pre-1900 redwood panels,
long thought lost, on which new pledges of UC Berkeley's
first fraternity - and the first fraternity west of
the Mississippi - carved their names.
WHEN: The excavation ends at 5 p.m. TODAY, Thursday, June 21. Mapping, lab and other related work continues today and Friday, June 22, until 6 p.m.
Berkeley's Archaeological Research Facility, 2251 College
Ave., Berkeley, on the site of the first Zeta Psi house
erected in 1876. When the fraternity house became run
down, it was lifted off its foundation and moved to
the back of the lot. A new house was built on the front
of the lot, and the original burned down in 1946. UC
Berkeley began using the remaining structure for academic
purposes in 1957.
students led by Laurie A. Wilkie, UC Berkeley professor
of archaeology, are wrapping up a four-week excavation
on the former courtyard of the building, which is slated
for seismic retrofitting. They feared artifacts would
be lost without this summertime dig.
BACKGROUND: Students have found at least 29 engraved panels, including one with the signature of Dean Witter and his pledge class of 1909. Panels were rearranged and flipped so signatures were hidden when the campus took over the building. (Negotiations are underway to allow the fraternity to reclaim the panels). They also have unearthed the back corner of the original foundation as well as ceramics, bullet casings, medicine containers, glassware and animal bone from meals of the 1876-1911 and 1911-1957 occupations of the house.
In previous years, students have explored other sections of the site.