CAIRN is an interdisciplinary non profit group that relies on the volunteer efforts of cavers, cave divers, archaeologists and many others to document (map, photograph, sketch, scan, survey) and help preserve archaeological sites in caves.
Archaeology- the study of past cultures- is a field dedicated to preserving the last surviving links to ancient peoples. Cultural resources are being lost at a faster rate than natural resources and once gone, they are gone forever. CAIRN uses the latest technology to digitally document archaeological sites to share and educate the public. Together we can preserve our collective cultural history for future generations.
CAIRN is often called by cavers, landowners, or other archaeologists to examine a cave or rockshelter. When archaeological sites are located, they are documented non-destructively and in-situ (in place) with the techniques that best fit the situation (photos/sketch maps/video/survey). Artifacts are not removed and once we have recorded the site, CAIRN sets about writing a report that is given to the landowner, cave conservancy, or grotto. Cave locations are kept discrete by CAIRN. Therefore, caves are assigned a name and number based on the state speleological survey. When allowed and applicable, CAIRN reports the site findings with the appropriate state historic preservation agency. This archaeological site and hence the cave that contains it will then be on the state record- which only archaeologists have access to when researching, often for projects. In numerous cases, the state having access to the site/cave information has helped save both from imminent destruction from a construction project, such as a pipeline or road.