- Afetna Point, Saipan: Archaeological Investigations of a Latte Period Village and Historic Context in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands by Boyd Dixon et al., and: Yellow Beach 2 after 75 Years: The Archaeology of a WWII Invasion Beach on Saipan and its Historic Context in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands by Boyd Dixon et al
The companion monographs Afetna Point, Saipan and Yellow Beach 2 after 75 Years offer a significant perspective on the history of a modest parcel of land on a small island in a remote corner of the Pacific. Although much of the parcel in San Antonio, Saipan had been disturbed by a deep sand mine, historic preservation officials for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) had identified the area as having high potential for significant archaeological and historical resources, both pre-and post-contact (including a WWII American invasion beach). The archaeological project conducted by Boyd Dixon and his colleagues vindicates the wisdom of CNMI in anticipating the significance of the project area. That the research for this project was realized within the framework of a Cultural Resource Management (CRM) compliance project adds value to this investigation in setting a high standard for ongoing archaeological work in the region. The acceleration of economic development on Saipan (and elsewhere in the region) challenges archaeologists to develop flexible and innovative approaches for researching the past on relatively small land parcels in increasingly urbanized and segmented landscapes. The success of Dixon and colleagues in meeting the challenge of developing a meaningful research program in a highly disturbed setting distinguishes this project. The researchers on this project met this challenge by leveraging their prior experience and analytical assets to construct substantive research questions. The authors and their staff aligned unit excavations along a linear and parallel axis to construct a cross-section for characterizing the cultural and precultural sequence of stratigraphy on the property. Their investment in a suite of specialized analyses (e.g., radiocarbon, micro-fossil, pollen, phytoliths, and starch) along with more conventional analyses of material culture (e.g., ceramic, stone, shell, historic) strengthened their research.
The first of the companion monographs, entitled Afetna Point, Saipan: Archaeological Investigations of a Latte Period Village and Historic Context in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, focuses on a Latte Period village. Particularly notable is the presentation of metric and nonmetric data from the analyses in no less than 52 tables in a total of 9 chapters. This is particularly constructive because academic publishing venues such as [End Page 478] journals typically prohibit the presentation of large primary datasets. Equally valuable is their inclusion of 106 figures, including unit and feature plan views and profiles, high-resolu-tion photographs of artifacts and osteological materials, and diagrams of pollen, phytolith, and starch frequencies. The presentation of such data ensures that this project will be an enduring contribution. It will provide other researchers the opportunity to develop a comparative perspective on their findings from elsewhere in the Mariana Islands, much as these authors did themselves. Indeed, I have already benefitted from consulting (and citing) this volume in my own scholarly writing.
In the first four chapters, Dixon and coauthors summarize the research design, historic context, and methods used to recover and analyze the material culture and human osteological remains. A majority of the features and cultural assemblages are from the Latte Period, which offered the investi-gators...