Perinis to donate land to Archaeological Conservancy

March 04, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Franklin County's richest known archaeology site soon will be donated for conservation.

Paul A. Perini, president of Perini Properties Corp., said he and his father, Dominick Perini, will donate 2.8 acres of land along U.S. 11 and Interstate 81 in Greencastle to the Archaeological Conservancy.

Perini said he chose to donate the land after a group of 30 archaeologists from the Society of Pennsylvania Archaeology surveyed 625 square feet of the property and found roughly 25,000 artifacts.

Stead said Perini gave all of the artifacts unearthed from his property to the local chapter of the Society of Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA), which can loan the artifacts to local or state museums.


Perini said 1,000 of the artifacts were deemed museum-quality. To explain the delineation of artifacts, he used the example of an arrowhead.

"The arrowhead would be a museum-quality artifact, but the stone chipped away to fashion the arrowhead would also be considered artifacts," he said. "They tell something about the site."

Andy Stout said once the land is a registered preserve of the Archaeological Conservancy, all artifacts unearthed by researchers will be deeded public repository.

For a site in Franklin County, he said the artifacts most likely would be sent to the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission (PHMC).

Bill Stead, principal archaeological investigator, said the PHMC required that the land be surveyed as part of its pre-development assessment.

"The process in Pennsylvania is that you have to investigate every site that may have a rich archaeological history," Stead said. "The Phase 1 survey clearly established the site was a very significant prehistoric site."

Stead, who estimated that the land holds more than 21 million artifacts, suggested Perini submit a portion of the property for conservation.

Had Perini not chosen to donate the land, the state would have required that many more acres be excavated, Stead said.

Additionally, the state could have prevented Perini from developing his entire 200-acre site in an effort to preserve the land, Stead said.

"It would be a very major effort to go through Phase II and Phase III of the state's requirements," he said.

While archaeologists have been excavating the adjacent Al Bonnell farm and Ebberts Spring area for decades, the Archaeological Conservancy had disregarded Perini's land until he contacted the organization in 2006.

"I had visited the site years ago, and I didn't feel there was a role for the conservancy," said Andy Stout, Eastern regional director.

Since 2006, Perini has had an ongoing dialogue with Stout and the state about conserving the land, but the issue has not been finalized.

Stead explained that, in general, a "developer really wants to give none of the land over, and the state wants it all. They have to find the middle ground."

Bill McLaughlin, project manager for the development, said the Perinis have other concerns with the development to "iron out" before the land can be donated.

McLaughlin anticipates Perini donating the land this summer, but said there is no hurry.

"The land has been there for thousands of years. It is not going anywhere," he said. "Whether it is donated now or in 10 years will make little difference."

Once the land belongs to the conservancy, Stout said it will be open for excavation by archaeologists with "a valid research agenda."

"We never allow complete excavation of a site," he said. "Archaeology is destruction, but hopefully, it is well-documented, well-thought out and well-executed destruction."

The Archaeological Conservancy owns two sites in Franklin County.

The Herald-Mail Articles