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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Another Far Western Employee Earns Graduate Degree

Sarah Rice

Congratulations to Staff Archaeologist Sarah Rice for successfully defending her Master’s thesis at the University of Nevada, Reno, on February 27th, 2015. Her thesis, Paleoindian Site Structure and Toolstone Procurement at the Overlook Site, focuses on a Paleoindian site at NAS Fallon in northwestern Nevada. Rice has been with Far Western’s Great Basin Branch since 2006 and is an asset to our highly skilled team. Once again, congratulations Sarah!

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Bill Hildebrandt Receives Baumhoff Special Achievement Award at SCAs

William Hildebrandt, Far Western Anthropological Group

The Martin A. Baumhoff Special Achievement Award is given for lifetime contributions to California archaeology. The award focuses on an individual’s career accomplishments, personal and professional highlights, scope of influence, and other achievements. At the 2015 Society for California Archaeology (SCA) Conference, this March, Far Western’s founding member William Hildebrandt received the Baumhoff Special Achievement Award, presented by Kelly McGuire at the banquet event. We are honored as a company to benefit from his lifetime of dedication to and professional achievements in the field of archaeology.

The Golden Shovel Award recipient Edward Mike was introduced by Far Western Senior Archaeologist Michael Darcangelo. Ed has worked with Far Western for over twenty years. Patricia Mikkelsen was also awarded the President’s Award for Exceptional Service to the SCA.

Overall there was an outstanding showing and participation at the SCAs again this year by Far Western Staff:

  • Laura Brink presented Patrilocal Post-Marital Residence and Bride Service in the Early Period: Strontium Isotope Evidence from CA-SJO-112, a paper she co-authored with Jelmer Eerkens and Candice Ralston. Laura also co-authored a second paper, Trophy Heads or Ancestor Veneration? A Stable Isotope Perspective on Disassociated and Modified Crania in Pre-contact Central California with Jelmer Eerkens, Eric J. Bartelink, Richard T. Fitzgerald, Ramona Garibay, Gina A. Jorgenson, and Randy S. Wiberg.
  • Kaely Colligan served as this year’s Program Chair, gave the Welcome speech and organized the Plenary Session Beyond Boundaries, as well as co-authored Small Sites with Big Potential: Survey Results from the Cabrillo College Field School with Dustin McKenzie, Emily Bales, and Violet Navarrete.
  • Jill Eubanks presented The Importance of Field Records, Notes, and Maps for Future Research at the Poster Symposium.
  • Molly Fogarty and Stephen Hennek instructed the workshop Can I Touch It?: Workflows to Create Journal-Quality Images and Interactive Graphics with 3D Scanning and Photography.
  • William Hildebrandt was a symposium discussant and presented Native American Rock Features from South-Central Oregon and Northeastern California, a paper he co-authored with Paul Brandy, Nathan Stevens, and Amy Foutch Porras.
  • Philip Kaijankoski presented his poster Assembling the East Bay: Subsurface Geoarchaeological Explorations for the Silicon Valley-Berryessa BART Extension Project.
  • Jack Meyer and Jeffrey Rosenthal co-authored Paleodietary Analysis of a Central California (CA-CCO-696) Burial Population using Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes with Candice Ralston and Jelmer Eerkens.
  • Patricia Mikkelsen introduced the Poster Symposium and also presented her poster Prehistoric Structures and Yucca Roasting Ovens in Cuyama Valley. She gave out over 100 copies of The Long Road Traveled.
  • Mark Hylkema and Far Western’s Tammara Norton designed the Program cover, the Archaeology Month Poster, and stunning labels for wine bottles this year.
  • Jeffrey Rosenthal also co-authored Using XRF to Reconstruct Mobility at the Skyrocket Site (CA-CAL-629/630) with Carly S. Whelan, John H. Pryor, and Jeffrey R. Ferguson.
  • Allika Ruby co-authored The Antiquity of Patwin Occupation in the Capay Valley of Central California with Al Schwitalla, and Mike Taggart.
  • Nathan Stevens presented Changes in Technology in the Cuyama Archaeological Record at the Poster Symposium, and he also presented A Reevalutaion of Tuscan Obsidian Hydration, which he co-authored with Michael Darcangelo.
  • Adrian Whitaker was a guest speaker in the forum “Women in Archaeology: Mentoring and Connecting.”
  • Eric Wohlgemuth presented Change and Stability in Late Holocene Plant Use in the Cuyama River Canyon at the Poster Symposium.

A huge thank you to the fantastic Far Western staff including Kathleen Montgomery, Nicole Birney and the Graphic Design and Publishing Department; Art Director Tammara Norton; and Paul Brandy, Jill Bradeen, and the GIS and Cartography Department for their extraordinary work creating maps and graphics for the posters and slide shows for those who presented. Also, thank you to the wonderful Administration Department for their cool and collected organizational skills and helpful work in support of the Far Western contributions to the conference.

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116 Solar Panels Prep Far Western for Spring

Far Western Anthropological Research Group Solar Panels

Far Western recently had a 29.5-kW solar panel system installed on the roof of our main office in Davis. The array features 116 individual solar panels and will supply approximately 80% of Far Western’s total electrical needs. Over a 25-year span, the system will lower our carbon footprint by 768 tons of C02, or the equivalent of 2,602,000 small-car miles.

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Two New Corporate Officers

Far Western is delighted to announce the election of two new Corporate Officers:

Kim CarpenterKimberley Carpenter – President
Kim is the Senior Faunal Analyst and has spent the last several years managing large, complex, and time-sensitive projects for our energy-sector clients.

Paul BrandyPaul Brandy – Secretary
Paul manages our GIS and Cartography group, providing insight and adding value to the vast amounts of information necessary for project success.

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Film and Booklet Released

We have just completed two outreach efforts as part of our Ruby Pipeline project—a 32-minute film about Native American participation in archaeological projects, entitled Breaking New Ground: Native Americans in Archaeology; and a full-color, 35-page booklet about the short-lived Nevada town of Vya, entitled Creating Vya: The Dream of Dry Farming in Long Valley, Nevada. To date, the film has been sent to more than 250 native tribes and as many agency archaeologists. The booklet is available through the Bureau of Land Management Surprise Valley Field Office, Black Rock Field Office, and the Black Rock Visitor Station in Gerlach, Nevada.

A Film by Phil Gross. Produced by Kelly McGuire.

Northern Nevada is a landscape of extremes, from parched playas baking in the summer sun to snow-mantled peaks wrapped in winter’s deep freeze. Through this landscape a new gas pipeline would be built, but before construction could begin, archaeological studies would have to be completed along the entire route. Far Western Anthropological Research Group hired members of the region’s Paiute and Shoshone tribal communities and trained them as archaeologists to assist in the mapping, recording, and excavating of archaeological sites located on their ancestral lands. For many, working as archaeologists was a life-changing event. Their understanding of their history grew; their attitudes toward archaeology changed; and they experienced moments of profound spirituality. This is their story.

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