Now Available Online! “Life on the River” by Hildebrandt and Darcangelo

Life on the River Cover

Instructors often request Life on the River – The Archaeology of an Early Native American Culture for use in their classrooms only to find out that it is now out of print.

With permission from Heyday Books, Life on the River, by Far Western authors William Hildebrandt and Michael Darcangelo, is now available online for instructors, students, and others curious about Sacramento Valley archaeology.

Life on the River

Part of the Crew for the Shasta County
2005 Field Season.

The book describes archaeological techniques and discoveries found at a Shasta County site, located on the Upper Sacramento River. It details Wintu lifeways just before and during the arrival of Europeans.

Click HERE to open the PDF!

You can also find the book under our Public Outreach and Interpretation page, along with other Far Western outreach projects, PDFs, and videos.

Read the first page…

LifeOnTheRiver

Chapter I: Introduction

During the summer of 2005, thirty-six acres along the Sacramento River were subdivided into six residential lots. The land lies in Shasta County, about six miles south of Redding, California, within the original homeland of the Wintu Indians. One of the prime lots contained an archaeological site officially registered as CA-SHA-1043 and subsequently given the Wintu name “Kum Bay Xerel” (Shady Oak Village; Figure 1). After several failed attempts to develop construction plans that could avoid the site, the landowner decided that the project should move forward, but only after an archaeological excavation. The excavations were carried out by the authors of this publication and other members of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group, with help from several Wintu tribal members and professional volunteers from throughout northern California…read more!

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Far Western Grad Examines How Accessibility Impacts Population Growth

235b391 -landing
Far Western’s Ruth Zipfel, one of our GIS specialists, successfully defended her Master’s thesis on waterway-to-rail and rail-to-roadway transportation, entitled “Network Accessibility and Population Change: Historical Analysis of Transportation in Tennessee, 1830–2010.”

She used GIS and statistical linear regression models to analyze factors contributing to population changes spanning 180 years. She focused primarily on transport networks, and she also included additional potential contributing variables, such as population share and mean geodesic distances to large cities.

Congratulations, Ruth, on graduating with your
Master’s of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology from USC!

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Archaeology and Prehistoric Ecology of Putah Creek Lecture

Adie Whitaker Featured Image

Join Putah Creek Council’s third CreekSpeak talk of 2015 on July 2, 2015, by Far Western’s Adrian Whitaker.

Thursday, July 2, 2015, 7:00 PM
Davis Veterans Memorial Theatre Club Room
203 E. 14th Street
Davis, California

CreekSpeak is Putah Creek Council’s six-month series of community talks about the nature, culture, and history of the Davis region.

Press release from the Putah Creek Council:
Have you ever wondered who used to live along Putah Creek? Humans have lived along the shores of Putah Creek and other tributaries of the Sacramento River for thousands of years and the physical remains of their activities are preserved in a rich archaeological record. Join us as we learn about the earliest human settlers around Putah Creek, the resources they relied on, and what the archaeological record can tell us about the past ecology of the creek and watershed. We will also explore the need and process of preserving archaeological resources as part of our shared cultural heritage.

Adie Whitaker is a California Archaeologist who has worked throughout the state. He received his PhD from UC Davis in 2008 and has worked since that time at Far Western, an archaeological consulting firm in Davis. He has published research focused on the ecological interactions between prehistoric humans and their environments in California. In his former career as a camp counselor he worked at Camp Putah in Davis, where he was known as “Monkey.”

CreekSpeak talks are free to Putah Creek Council members and open to the public. A $5 donation is requested from those who have not yet joined the Council.

https://www.putahcreekcouncil.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=591

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Cuyama Valley Digital Booklet, Exhibits, and 3D Gallery

TLRTIn the late 1960s and early 1970s, the California Division of Highways carried out three highway realignment projects in Cuyama Valley, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Salvage archaeological work was conducted at seven sites, but the resulting extensive collections were never formally catalogued or documented.

Some 40 years later, the California Department of Transportation awarded Far Western a Transportation Enhancement grant to analyze and document the Cuyama Valley archaeological collections. The  result is entitled Cuyama Valley – A Corridor to the Past.

The Cuyama Valley story is also presented in a booklet for the public called The Long Road Traveled by Patricia Mikkelsen, Paula Juelke Carr, Shelly Tiley, Julia Costello, Nathan Stevens, and John R. Johnson. Read it HERE!

We created a 3D gallery as part of the digital booklet. Spin and view the 3D Visualization Gallery HERE!

This publication honors Dr. Valerie Levulett, who initiated the Cuyama Valley project.

She was instrumental in ensuring that the gathered information be made available to researchers and the public alike.

Far Western also designed and fabricated two sets of portable exhibits and a set of four bookmarks to be used by members of the Chumash Indian community.

Portable Exhibit 2

This project was a collaborative partnership among the Native American community, the District 5 Central Coast Specialist Branch of the California Department of Transportation, Far Western, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Foothill Resources, and Tiley Research, among others. We thank the many individuals who contributed their talents to this project, and particularly want to recognize the Native Americans with ties to Cuyama Valley who generously shared their time and stories with us.

We also wish to acknowledge the generous support of the California Transportation Commission, who made it possible to complete the proper processing and curation of the Cuyama archaeological collection. This study has opened up new and important vistas on the prehistory and early history of the Cuyama Valley corridor.

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California Transportation Award Nomination

The First Inhabitants Board

Far Western recently completed work on the Truckee River Legacy Trail in Nevada County, California. This long-term contract included site evaluations, data recovery, public interpretation, and a series of reports and treatment plans for the California Department of Transportation, the Tahoe National Forest, and the Town of Truckee, California. Dr. Susan Lindström, Zeier & Assocaiates, and Penny Rucks worked with Far Western on various aspects of the project.

Chinese Emigrants in Truckee and Truckee Ice

Sharon A. Waechter and Tammara Ekness-Norton designed 15 trail-side panels, as well as a trail map and brochure.

Fish of the Truckee River and Native Plants Along the Trail

The Truckee River Legacy Trail has been chosen as one of the three finalists in the Bicycle/Pedestrian Trail category for a Transportation Award from the California Transportation Foundation (CTF). Anne Mayer, Chairperson of the CTF Awards Committee, noted that the finalists represent the best of the projects, programs, and people who made a positive difference for California transportation in 2014.” The winner will be announced at a luncheon on May 21, 2015.

For more information on the Truckee River Legacy Trail see our featured project page HERE!

See all Finalists for the California Transportation Foundation Awards HERE!

26th-Annual-Trans-Awards

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Crescents? What Are They Good For?

Mike Lenzi gave a knock-out presentation on the function of crescents. It described the results of employing experimental archaeology to compare crescents to technological alternatives (flakes and Western Stemmed Tradition points) for a variety of tasks. The presentation also related the use-wear breakage to patterns displayed by archaeological specimens. His conclusions: the primary function of crescents was likely hafted projectiles for procuring waterfowl and small game at the margins of Pluvial lakes and near wetlands.

Lenzi Defense Flier

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San Francisco SAA 80th Meeting Successes

Far Western at SAA Meeting

Laura Brink and Stephanie Bennett at the Far Western table for the 80th Annual SAA Meeting.


The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) met in San Francisco for their 80th Annual Meeting – their largest meeting yet! The SAA is an international organization dedicated to the research, interpretation, and protection of the archaeological heritage for the Americas. This year, Far Western was well-represented with many successful presentations, including the opening session, and poster sessions. Learn more about the Society for American Archaeology HERE.

Use the buttons below to see abstracts from Far Western presentations and collaborations!

Angela Arpaia
Plant Remains Assemblage in Santa Clara Valley
Laura Brink
Reconstructing Mobility in the San Francisco Bay Area: Strontium and Oxygen Isotope Analysis at Two California Late Period Sites, CA-CCO-297 and CA-SCL-919
Ryan Byerly
Geochemical and Physical Characterization of Lithic Raw Materials in the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania
Brian Byrd
The Neolithic Houses of California – An Ethnohistoric Comparative Perspective on Household and Community Organization among Complex Hunter-Gatherers
Brian Byrd
Wadi Madamagh, Western Highlands of Jordan: Lithic Evidence from the Late Upper Paleolithic and Early Epipaleolithic Occupations
Daron Duke
Haskett Spear Points and the Plausibility of Megafaunal Hunting in the Great Basin
Tod Hildebrandt
Divergent Histories: Prehistoric Use of Alpine Habitats in the Toquima and Toiyabe Ranges, Central Great Basin
William Hildebrandt and Kelly McGuire
Middle Archaic Expansion into High Elevation Habitats: A View from the Southwestern Great Basin
Philip Kiajankoski, Jack Meyer, and Paul Brandy
A Land Transformed: Holocene Sea-Level Rise, Landscape Evolution, and Human Occupation in the San Francisco Bay Area
Lucas Martindale Johnson
Preliminary Interpretations of the Reduction Technology and Distribution of Obsidian Cores at Caracol, Belize: Learning to Reconsider Maya “Eccentrics” and Social Relations of Ritual Objects
Jack Meyer
Holocene Transformation of San Francisco Bay and Transbay Man Site Stratigraphy
Michelle Rich
From A Forest of Kings to the Forests of Peten: The Mirador Group at El Perú-Waka'
Nathan Stevens and Jeffrey Rosenthal
Geology, Historical Contingency, and Ecological Inheritance in California's Southern Sierra Nevada
Adrian Whitaker and Brian Byrd
An Ideal Free Settlement Perspective on Residential Positioning in the San Francisco Bay Area
Eric Wohlgemuth
Environmental Constraints and Plant Food Intensification in the Sacramento Valley
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Is Mojave Desert Clovis Contemporaneous with Clovis Elsewhere?

Clovis Biface

In their recent article in PaleoAmerica, one of Far Western’s Principal Investigators, Ryan Byerly, and one of our Senior Archaeologists, Joanna Roberson, examine a Clovis biface and explore dating terminal Pleistocene geological deposits in Twentynine Palms, California. The type of fluted biface, made of local jasper, implies that it may have been deposited before the Younger Dryas period, and it may coincide with Clovis points dated in other locations (ca. 13,200–12,700 calibrated years before present).

“More than 30 years of cultural resources management in the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), Twentynine Palms, California, has produced a growing body of mostly unpublished data (cf. Sutton et al. 2007) concerning the late Pleistocene–middle Holocene archaeology of the Mojave Desert. This article highlights recent work demonstrating the presence of hunter-gatherers in the MCAGCC before the Younger Dryas, and the potential preservation of significantly ancient buried deposits in some areas.”

—Byerly and Roberson 2015

Read their article HERE.

“Late Pleistocene to Middle Holocene Archaeology in the Mojave Desert: Recent Discoveries in Twentynine Palms, California,” PaleoAmerica 1(2):197-201

The authors thank the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs staff aboard MCAGCC, particularly Marie Cottrell, Leslie Glover, John Hale, and Nick Chamberlain, for their dedication to the management of cultural resources and providing data gleaned from those efforts for this piece. We would also like to acknowledge Mike Rondeau for taking time to analyze and identify the fluted projectile point, which was found by Devin Garvey, a Far Western archaeological technician. Geomorphological work was conducted by D. Craig Young, Andras Nagy produced the map, and Kathleen Montgomery created the other figure. Amy Gilreath manages Far Western’s work aboard MCAGCC, and Bill Hildebrandt serves as Principal Investigator for these projects. Mark Allen and three anonymous reviewers helped improve an earlier draft of the article.

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Rare Utah Finds Continue to Make News

Western Digs‘ new article “Over 1,000 Ancient Stone Tools, Left by Great Basin Hunters, Found in Utah Desert” cites Far Western’s work in the Utah Test and Training Ranges in 2012. The article mentions the vast assemblage of stone tools found in the Old River Bed Delta of Western Utah—including the largest Haskett Point ever recorded. Daron Duke, Principal Investigator and Director of our Desert Branch, mentions in the article that, regardless of its size, the “Haskett is very rare anywhere.”

“(T)hese finds help clarify a picture that has remained hazy for archaeologists: the life and times of the Great Basin’s earliest inhabitants, who may have been contemporaries of the ancient and widespread Clovis culture.” -Blake de Pastino, Western Digs

Check out the full article and photos HERE.
This find was also mentioned on the website of Archaeology Magazine.

Haskett Point 3D Model Below:

Supported Browsers: Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome.
ROTATE: Click and drag (or touch and drag). ZOOM: Scroll wheel (or pinch and zoom).


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Lab Director Liz Honeysett Retires

Liz Honeysett

Liz joined Far Western in 1985 during our first large-scale project, the Shasta I-5 investigations, and quickly became an integral part of the Far Western family. As Lab Director for more than 25 years, she played an important role in virtually every project: processing and organizing field collections and site paperwork; submitting samples for radiocarbon dating, obsidian studies, faunal identification, and other special analyses; creating databases for artifact cataloguing; doing lithic analysis; arranging for long-term curation of site collections; and training untold numbers of lab technicians to meet her exacting standards. And she still had time to raise chickens and grow prize-winning tomatoes!

Thank you, Liz for being an essential member of the Far Western team. You (and your wonderful seasonal produce) will be sorely missed. Cheers to you and best wishes for your new adventures!

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