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The Archaeology of Contemporary Landfills

  • W. L. Rathje (a1), W. W. Hughes (a1), D. C. Wilson (a1), M. K. Tani (a1), G. H. Archer (a1), R. G. Hunt (a2) and T. W. Jones (a1)...


The Garbage Project has excavated eight sanitary landfulls from California to Florida and analyzed 6.71 metric tons of refuse deposited between 1952 and 1988. While the ultimate goal of this continuing endeavor is to collect archaeological data on contemporary discards using a methodology that will link our society to the past, this initial report relates Garbage Project data to three issues of current public concern. This first applied archaeology of landfills has identified: (1) the contents of specific landfills and possible refinements for "national" estimates of U.S. landfill contents; (2) a link between moisture level and rate of refuse decomposition; and (3) part of the pathway of migration for heavy metals.


El Proyecto Basura ha excavado ocho rellenos sanitarios localizados en sitios desde California hasta la Florida y ha analizado un total de 6.71 toneladas métricas de desechos depositados en un período que abarca desde 1952 a 1988. Nuestros trabajos de investigación tienen como meta primordial el recolectar datos arqueológicos de los desechos contemporáneos utilizando una metodología que vincula a nuestra sociedad con su pasado. Este informe inicial establece relaciones entre los datos sistemáticamente recolectados por el Proyecto Basura y tres temas actuates de creciente interés público. Este primer estudio de arqueología aplicada a los rellenos sanitarios ha identificado: (1) el contenido de rellenos sanitarios específicos, cuyos datos podrían refinarse para derivar estimaciones "nacionales" del contenido de los rellenos sanitarios en los Estados Unidos; (2) la estrecha relación entre los niveles de humedad en los depósitos de basura y el ritmo de la descomposición de los desechos; y (3) una parte crucial de los cauces de flujo de los metales pesados identificados como contaminantes del agua.



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