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UCLA archaeology institute honored for work on Santa Monica Canyon cemetery

December 17, 2009 |  2:35 pm

UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and a research associate have won the Governor's Historic Preservation Award for high-tech mapping efforts at the Marquez Family Cemetery in Santa Monica Canyon.

Using ground-penetrating radar, the Cotsen team early this year identified 15 possible grave sites, as well as a possible mass burial pit. The results are being used by descendants of Francisco Marquez, the Mexican co-holder of the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica land grant, to develop a restoration plan for the site.

Marquez is thought to have established a burial ground in the canyon in the 1840s. The cemetery contains the remains of his youngest son, Pascual, and perhaps 30 other family members, American Indian servants and friends, including a number of guests who died of botulism after eating home-canned peaches at a New Year's Eve gathering in 1909. 

In 2000, the city of Los Angeles named the cemetery a historic-cultural monument and declared it an "extremely historic" landmark for representing the region's early ranch families.

The award will be presented to the Cotsen Institute and research associate Dean Goodman on Jan. 20 in Sacramento.

-- Martha Groves

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