Far Western Speaker Series Presents: Mike Lenzi, MA

Far Western Anthropological Research Group
Occasional Speaker Series Presents
Mike Lenzi, M.A., RPA
Staff Archaeologist, Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc.
Speaking on:
The Utility of Experimental Archaeology for Addressing Research Questions:
A Case Study of Crescents from the Western United States.

Thursday, September 10th, 2015 – 5:00 pm
Far Western Lab
2727 Del Rio Place, Davis, CA 95618

replicaExperimental archaeology is used to understand how artifacts were manufactured, used, and discarded. This study used replicated crescents to evaluate common hypotheses for their function and demystify their role in the prehistoric toolkit. Models from human behavioral ecology were applied to evaluate the efficiency of crescents to cut leather, scrape willow, and tip projectiles. Breaks accrued from use of the replicated crescents were compared to archaeological patterns. The hypothesis that the primary function of crescents is for cutting and slicing tasks and scraping plants is not supported; however, use as transverse projectile points is well-supported.

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A Least-cost GIS Approach to Modeling Foraging Ranges, Spatial Organization of Southern Levant

Brian Byrd, Andrew N. Garrard, and Paul Brandy recently published their article “Modeling Foraging Ranges and Spatial Organization of Late Pleistocene Hunter-gatherers in the Southern Levant—A Least-cost GIS Approach” in Quaternary International.

Read the full article at Quaternary International, Academia.edu, or Researchgate.net.
For an introduction, watch the narrated slide show below.


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FW Geoarchaeologists Help Map San Francisco Bay Area Prehistory

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Cores in the Far Western Geoarchaeology Lab.

Cores upon cores fill the shelves of the Far Western Geoarchaeology Lab in Davis. These long tubes of “dirt” tell us a lot about prehistoric landscape evolution, and thus can help determine whether or not a location might have potential for archaeological findings. In most situations, backhoe trenching is the most effective way to identify sites. When backhoe trenching is not possible, in urban areas for example, or when the potential depth for a site exceeds the range of mechanical excavation, we conduct hydraulic continuous-core sampling to identify sites.

Coring in San Francisco.

Coring in San Francisco.

 

 

When archaeologists dig through the layers of earth carefully, the different soils and buried surfaces can be visually seen. Cores do the same thing, like inserting a straw into a layer cake, sometimes reaching 65 feet below surface. Each four-foot section of the core is pulled up in two-inch-diameter plastic liners, brought to the lab, sliced down the center, and splayed open to reveal the stratigraphic layers.

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OSL samples from cores.

Dating the layers can be done in a couple of ways. Most often, radiocarbon dating is used to get close estimates of how old plant, bone, or shell is in a certain layer, or when now buried surfaces were exposed at the surface. Other times, however, there is not enough organic matter to be sampled. In those cases, Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating can be used. OSL samples must be removed from their original location in complete darkness, and kept in the dark until tested to provide accurate dates. The dates for each layer let geoarchaeologists map similar types of strata throughout a particular location. This helps archaeologists figure out where sites might be buried.

Schematic Cross Section of Study Area in San Francisco.

Schematic Cross Section of Study Area in San Francisco.

 

Recently opened core exposing artificial fill at the surface (~1.5–2.4 meters below surface), underlain by recent alluvium (~2.5–3.5 meters below surface), and followed in turn by a dense prehistoric shell midden (~3.5–5.5 meters below surface) formed on a Pleistocene-age sand dune (starting ~5.5 meters below surface).

Recently opened core exposing artificial fill at the surface (~1.5–2.4 meters below surface), underlain by recent alluvium (~2.5–3.5 meters below surface), and followed in turn by a dense prehistoric shell midden (~3.5–5.5 meters below surface) formed on a Pleistocene-age sand dune (starting ~5.5 meters below surface).

 

 

 

Once buried land surfaces are identified in the cores, they can be sampled to not only determine their age and whether they contain archaeological materials, but also tested to see what types of small seeds, pollen, or other diagnostic material. This can be used to reconstruct the type of landscape that was present when that layer was at or near the surface.

Currently, Far Western Geoarchaeologists are using cores to map the potential for intact buried land surfaces below the historic-era extent of the San Francisco Bay. As ocean levels have risen, they have covered up landforms where people once lived. Recent findings indicate that we may be able to quite accurately map where some people lived for long periods of time, and perhaps returned over and over again generations later.

For interested archaeologists and non-archaeologists alike, we suggest reading: Waters, Michael R.,1992, Principles of Geoarchaeology: A North American Perspective. The University of Arizona Press.

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Creating Vya: The Dream of Dry Farming

Creating Vya: The Dream of Dry Farming in Long Valley, Nevada describes the rise and fall of the community of Vya with additional information on Northern Paiute lifeways, early explorers, cattle ranching, and the failed Long Valley Water Project. The book includes numerous photographs by John L. Henry.

Flip through the interactive booklet below, or view this booklet and others on our Public Outreach Projects page!

By Erich Obermayr Historic Insight with Sharon A. Waechter Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc.

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“Most Inspirational” Film AND Telly Award

TACThe Archaeology Channel film jury voted Far Western’s “Breaking New Ground: Native Americans in Archaeology the winner of the “Most Inspirational” award at the TAC International Video and Film Festival held in Eugene, Oregon.

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Also, our new Silver Telly Award for the film arrived this month!

Designed by the same firm that makes the Oscar® and Emmy®, the statuette is nearly 12 inches tall and weighs more than 4 1/2 pounds. Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding videos and films.

The films are judged by a panel of over 650 industry professionals, each a past winner. Fewer than 10% of the nearly 12,000 entries, from all 50 states and numerous countries, were chosen as Winners of a Silver Telly, the highest honor.

Thank you to the Native Americans who shared their experiences and stories for this film,
including Two Bears, to whom the film is dedicated.

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Congratulations to all who worked on the film
and to Cinnabar Video!

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Professor Stevens to Start at Sac State

Primary_Vertical_3_Color_wht_hndCongratulations to Nathan Stevens on his appointment to the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Sacramento, as assistant professor!

Nathan will be teaching classes and mentoring grad students, as well as helping to run the Archaeological Research Center. We look forward to working with Nathan in his new position. We wish him the best of luck, and while we’re sad to see him go, we know he’ll be helping to bring better archaeologists into the field!

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

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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…

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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

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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

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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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