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Excavations at the Stadt Huys Block
While individuals have always played a part in discovering and protecting remains of the past, organizations can be more effective. The founding of PANYC crystallized in 1979 after plans were announced by a developer to construct a new headquarters at 85 Broad Street for Goldman Sachs, on the block where the Stadt Huys, New Amsterdam's first town hall, was once located. Archaeologists from the New York City area formed PANYC as an activist organization and joined forces with members of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to use the site as a test case to see if important archaeological finds could survive intact beneath the most heavily urbanized city in the world. More
Professional Archaeologists of New York City, Inc. (PANYC), is an organization devoted to the protection and preservation of archaeological and historic resources in New York City. Founded in 1980, its purpose is not to excavate archaeological sites but to promote cooperation and communication among the City's professional archaeologists and to advise and educate public agencies and the general public on matters relating to the archaeology of the City. Since 1989 PANYC has co-sponsored an annual Public Program with the Museum of the City of New York to bring the fascinating discoveries of archaeology in the city to the public.
Archaeology, whose literal meaning is the study of the old, involves searching for and analyzing objects left by people long gone (i.e., artifacts and ruins). Archaeologists excavate, carefully recording evidence of human habitation and other activities, and then painstakingly analyze the data and objects they unearth to decipher the past. Historical archaeologists complement or expand this evidence with written records and other kinds of information. When there is no written documentation, archaeology often provides the only clues to past ways of life.
Urban archaeologists conduct their investigations in heavily built environments. In an urban center such as New York City, they sometimes undertake their studies literally in the shadow of a builder’s wrecking ball, working against time, trying to save the history beneath the surface before yet another construction project destroys it. They accept this challenge, for they know these buried remains contain valuable evidence that has not been revealed or fully understood through written records.
PANYC has established two awards. The Bert Salwen Award for the Best Student Paper on New York City Archaeology is given to the author of the best paper on New York City archaeology written by a student in fulfillment of an academic requirement. Although preference may be given to papers written using materials from contract archaeology projects in the city, the competition is not limited to such research. Both graduate and undergraduate students are urged to apply. A prize of $100.00 is awarded to each awardee.
The Special PANYC Award for Outstanding Contributions Made by a Non-Archaeologist to New York City Archaeology. It is an award honoring non-archaeologists or institutions who have made outstanding contributions to the furtherance of New York City archaeology.
Both awards are accompanied by a certificate and an engraved towel, the main tool of the trade for archaeologists. See our Awardees.