Sandia Labs hires archaeologist in hopes to protect sacred artifacts

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Christina Chavez is the first full-time archeologist at Sandia National Labs and it’s her job to protect any cultural artifacts that are on Sandia’s land.

"A lot of these project owners, we work very closely to make sure we’re protecting the archeological resources and not stopping work at the same time,” Chavez said.

She’s done a lot of desktop research and knows the areas she has concern for so before any project begins, she’ll go out and survey the land based on the research she’s already done.

"I’ve come across a few areas with pre-historic findings and so we find a lot of pottery pieces, so ceramics painted, we find equivalent to arrowheads, which I call projectile points,” she said.

A lot of the items she finds date back between 800 to 1,200 years ago.

Her work doesn’t stop here in New Mexico. She also oversees missions that happen on lab land at the Hawaii and Nevada facilities as well. She’s done a lot of work in the desert Southwest, but she’s also spent several seasons working as a contractor in the Sahara desert.

Not only that, but Christina also worked at the oldest standing structure in Egypt. It’s an all adobe building, mud brick made and it’s about 16 feet thick and 33 feet tall.

"It really helped prep me for my career moving forward. Every season I would come back to my real life here in the states and just apply methods and knowledge that I learned overseas here in my career and it’s just been really important,” Chavez said.