caleprocure.ca.gov Certification ID: 39874
Far Western receives one of the coveted 2017 Governor’s Historic Preservation Awards for their work at archaeological site CA-SBA-1703, resulting in the document Salvaging the Past: A Case Study in Archaeological Inquiry. The California Office of Historic Preservation and State Parks and Recreation identified the document as an “excellent model for this kind of documentation and sharing of important resources.”
The report, authored by Allika Ruby and Patricia Mikkelsen, was a collaborative effort. Supporting authors included Philip Kaijankoski, Eric Wohlgemuth, Angela Arpaia, Lucas Martindale Johnson, Andrew Ugan, William Hildebrandt, John R. Johnson, and Nathan Stevens. Terry Joslin with the California Department of Transportation was involved throughout, as were Barbareño Chumash representatives who monitored all excavation work—Gilbert Unzueta, Isa Folkes, and David Dias.
Salvaging the Past: A Case Study in Archaeological Inquiry
The Las Vegas and San Pedro Creeks Capacity Improvements Project involved culvert replacement for flood control along US Route 101 near the city of Goleta, Santa Barbara County. A huge box culvert lay in a rechanneled drainage, stretching under railroad tracks, multi-lane Route 101, and an off-ramp. There were also two known sites either side of the highway, in a very urban environment, one occupied early in time—CA-SBA-1703—the other a named ethnographic village—S’axpilil’s (SBA-60). The sites are just north of Goleta Slough at the confluence of two creeks, an area with archaeological evidence shoring focused settlement for thousands of years.
Far Western was tasked with conducting salvage data recovery operations, within time, budget, weather, and safety constraints. The theme of the work became site persistence—
How could any intact cultural deposits survive in such an environment?
Through experience and skill, geoarchaeologist Phil Kaijankoski identified intact versus disturbed deposits. We then quickly developed a work plan to recover maximum information in a hectic environment using appropriate and diverse field techniques.
Back at the lab, we analyzed and interpreted the data, focusing on the identification of discrete temporal components. We had to determine if the deposit was associated with SBA-60 or SBA-1703; it was geographically right in-between. Geoarchaeologist Kaijankoski noted that the newly identified deposit lay on an ancient fan, as did SBA-1703, whereas SBA-60 sat on a youthful floodplain. Initial dating and artifact analyses confirmed the site deposit on the western slope was clearly associated with the older occupation at SBA-1703, dated to around 3700-2400 cal BP. A few Late Period artifacts, especially in the mixed eastern slope, indicated some overlap between the two sites.
Public Outreach Efforts
Given diverse, abundant artifacts, along with intact features, Far Western was able to undertake in-depth analyses and focus on addressing current avenues of research. The data presentation was geared to students of cultural resource management as the project highlighted the persistence of intact cultural resources in highly disturbed environment, and innovative methods to retrieve, analyze, and document findings.
The project presented such an important learning opportunity, that Far Western felt obligated to share it as much as possible, in a format that was readable, educational, and exciting. Therefore, a visually appealing document specifically geared to archaeology students focusing on cultural resources management and contract archaeology was created.
- perspectives on site preservation in an urban environment
- excavation strategies adapting to special conditions
- local and regional environmental reconstruction focusing on Goleta Slough
- relevance to biological, geological, archaeological, and
- environmental studies
- complex kinship studies based on mission records that connect Chumash individuals from the village of S’axpilil’s to Chumash rancherias
- innovative field techniques that adjust for conditions and findings and emphasize the importance of temporal components
- an in-depth study of geoarchaeology, noting the importance of a study of soils and soil transitions, is important to geologists and archaeologists.
Study questions were also prepared, relating to important aspects of the field work and research. Far Western provided the report and study questions to seven regional institutions to be incorporated into lesson plans; they have already been used in several classroom settings, with positive feedback.
Another key component of the project was the presence of the local Native American community. The monitors were provided copies of the case study; each encouraged the use of Salvaging the Past in archaeology classrooms. The ethnographic studies of Dr. John R. Johnson for this project emphasize the larger social network that existed at the time. This information is only available from extensive mission record studies.
Far Western’s GIS Department received the prestigious Map Gallery Award for outstanding analytic presentation—Modeling the Prehistoric Extent of San Francisco Bay and Potential for Cultural Resources—at the Esri Users Conference in San Diego, CA. Paul Brandy, a Far Western principal, and GIS Supervisor Shannon DeArmond led poster and web application development, presenting and summarizing data and research spearheaded by Jack Meyer and Phil Kaijankoski. Be sure to check out the animation at the end of the story map.
This year, the Map Gallery at the Esri Users Conference showcased over 900 maps. Far Western had two maps on display. The award-winning Modeling the Prehistoric Extent of San Francisco Bay and Potential for Cultural Resources accompanied the highly impactful Visualizing the Depopulation of Native Communities in the San Francisco Bay Region. The second map, and supporting research by Brian Byrd, is an engrossing demonstration using data from Dr. Randall Milliken’s Community Distribution Model to visually understand the impact of historic-era missionization on native communities. Click images below to enlarge.
Nearly 18,000 professionals attend the Esri Users Conference held annually in San Diego, California. Esri is an international provider of GIS (Geographic Information System) and spatial analytic software, web GIS, and geodatabase management applications.
March 9th – 12th 2017: Braving an impending storm – fortunately, a forecast that wasn’t – over 800 archaeologists attended the 51st Annual Society of California Archaeology Meetings in Fish Camp, California, just outside Yosemite National Park on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.
Organized by Far Western’s Dr. Adie Whitaker (Program Chair), the overarching theme of “Sharing the Past” was vibrant throughout the venue and symposia. Friday morning’s Plenary Session included a stellar line up of speakers sharing highlights of recent research in the foothills and mountains of the central and north-central Sierra. The Plenary Session officially opened the 2017 meetings as Dr. Eric Wohlgemuth of Far Western discussed the challenges of archaeological field methods in California’s conifer forests. Eric spoke alongside Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, Carly S. Whelan, Kathleen L. Hull, Reba Fuller, Brian Codding, Ron W. Goode, and Mary L. Maniery.
The meeting then dispersed into a buzz of presentations, posters, forums, and roundtable discussions. Far Western contributors and participants provided strong presence throughout the weekend.
As the meetings closed on Sunday, Far Western past-President Bill Hildebrandt took on a new presidential role, joining the SCA Board as Incoming President. Bill begins his service this year as a member of the seven-person board and will serve as President of the SCA from 2018-2019.
Organized Paper Symposium
Organized Poster Symposium
Volunteers from Far Western, Sacramento State University, UC Davis, and the archaeological community gathered in the Far Western lab at our headquarters in Davis, California, to participate in a set of experiments using ground stone tools. The tools used in the experiment were replicas of milling gear found in archaeological sites.
Tamara Buonasera, Ph.D., visiting from the University of Arizona, led the experiments; her work is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Buonasera specializes in the economic and social aspects of food processing among hunter-gatherers and has an extensive background in the preservation and taphonomy of ancient lipids. She pursues her research through analysis of organic residues and stable isotopes building on her studies in experimental archaeology, ground stone technology, and use-wear analysis in California, Alaska, and the Southwest.
Buonasera opened the experiment by presenting background on her own research and how the results of these experiments will contribute to studies of prehistoric food processing world-wide. These and other grinding sessions are part of a larger project aimed at evaluating relationships between milling tool design, human mobility, and resource use.
Nearly 20 participants paired-up on the cement floor of the Far Western lab to get their hands dirty through first-hand experience using a variety of milling tool designs. The tools ranged from large basalt mortars to flat sandstone grinding slabs. Each volunteer processed Indian rice grass seeds or acorns, known to have been used by Native Californians, into flour over two 30-minute segments. Our experimental results will provide information needed to model the relationships between tool sizes and shapes, raw materials used for grinding, and wear and tear on the tools used. Product output and labor costs (time) can also be calculated. The outcomes will help archaeologists interpret wear patterns and guide the best techniques for sampling organic residues on milling gear found at archaeological sites.
Another grinding experiment with Dr. Buonasera is tentatively planned for early June, 2017. This experiment will feature the invaluable participation of Dr. Helen McCarthy of Davis, who has worked with native California elders for decades, emphasizing women’s processing of acorns and other plant foods.
Far Western, as well as the local archaeological community, would like to thank Tammy for coming out and hosting a successful evening.
Far Western is proud to present the publication of
By WILLIAM R. HILDEBRANDT,
KELLY R. MCGUIRE, JEROME KING, ALLIKA RUBY, and D. CRAIG YOUNG
With Contributions by David Rhode, Jeffrey Rosenthal, Pat Barker, Kaely Colligan, William Bloomer, Albert Garner, Nathan Stevens, Andrew Ugan, Kimberley Carpenter, Laura Brink, Sharon Waechter, Richard Hughes, Tom Origer, Sharlyn Street, and Wendy Pierce.
The 101st edition of the Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History
The Anthropological Papers is a monograph series that has been publishing important anthropological and archaeological studies for over 100 years, continuously since 1907. Noteworthy scholars that have contributed to the series include Franz Boas (often considered the father of American anthropology), Robert Lowie, Alfred Kroeber, Pliny Earle Goddard, Clark Wissler, Margaret Mead, David Hurst Thomas, and Robert Bettinger.
The series focuses on large-scale studies with national and international significance, geared toward a professional, scientific audience. It is distributed to every significant research library in the country, and many international facilities as well. It is now available online.
In one of the most prestigious outlets in the world, the publication demonstrates Far Western’s world-class research. The Anthropological Papers allows Far Western to reach a very large audience—an audience which wouldn’t be reached otherwise.
All issues of Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History are available on the web from:
Order printed copies on the web from:
or via standard mail from:
American Museum of Natural History—Scientific Publications
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024
Shannon is the GIS Supervisor and has worked for Far Western since 2010. She has over fifteen years of experience using geographic information systems, specifically in cultural resources. Her responsibilities include spatial database management, GIS tool development, and web map application design, as well as project-specific map production. Shannon received her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of California, Davis, in Environmental Resource Science with an emphasis in geology. She is a member of Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), the Sacramento Area GIS User Group, and the California GeoDev Group. Shannon is a certified GIS professional (GISP #99182).
Shannon’s Featured Papers and Publications
Re-visualizing Regional Indigenous Persistence—A San Francisco Bay-Delta Area Perspective for Archaeologists. Paper presented at the 2017 Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting..
Cultural Resources Artifact Management and Analysis
Far Western houses comprehensive archaeological laboratory facilities at their Main Office in Davis, California, and in the Desert Branch in Henderson, Nevada. The laboratories are well-equipped and staffed with a diverse and highly trained team of specialists. Their work is supported by optical and digital instruments, database connectivity, appropriate comparative resources, and a vast on-site research library. Our lab personnel specialize in the identification, analysis, preservation, and curation of flaked and ground stone, ornamental objects, osteological and faunal remains, beads, historic-era artifacts, and more. While Far Western collaborates with professional and qualified vendors for specialized analyses, collection management and artifact analyses are typically completed in our facilities by a technical staff trained in non-invasive, up-to-date, and detailed archaeological techniques. Our laboratory staff supports and collaborates with Far Western Project Managers and Principal Investigators working daily to advance and apply analytical techniques to address cultural resources and archaeological research issues.
Our laboratories occupy security- and climate-controlled spaces to ensure safe and stable short-term curation during collections analysis. When analyses are complete, we specialize in preparing collections for long-term curation, preservation, and future study and presentation at certified curation facilities, museums, and cultural centers.
Charred Plant Remains Identification
Far Western employs a team of archaeobotanists who specialize in the recovery and identification of charred plant remains from archaeological sites. Archaeobotanical findings are integrated into Far Western excavation reports to address project-specific and regional research issues. In conjunction with remains of terrestrial animals and birds, fish, and shellfish, plant remains can help investigate prehistoric and historic-era use of food resources, changes in use of native foods across time and space, and reconstructing past environments and their changing patterns as landscapes evolved. Far Western also studies variability in fuel use through wood charcoal identification, working with Paleoscapes Archaeobotanical Services Team of Bailey, Colorado.
Far Western’s archaeobotany lab features flotation equipment and personnel capable of processing hundreds of archaeological sediment samples. Archaeological plant remains are identified with the aid of a reference collection of more than 500 seed, fruit, root, and wood samples from California and Nevada. Far Western has three binocular microscopes with capacity ranging from 7–70 magnifications, including digital image capture capability, and a digital scale with resolution to 0.1 milligram for weighing wood charcoal, nutshell, and berry pit fragments. Archaeobotanical data are entered into a relational database with quantitative and qualitative data on more than 2,400 flotation samples from cismontane California and hundreds of samples from the Great Basin and Mojave Desert.
Far Western’s archaeobotanists have worked with plant remains in California and Nevada since 1981. Archaeobotany lab director Dr. Eric Wohlgemuth has more than 30 years of experience in the field, and has written more than 100 reports on the subject, including several peer-reviewed publications on California plant remains. His research interests in California archaeobotany involve the evolution of and geographical variation in hunter-gatherer intensive plant use in California. Assistant Archaeobotanist Angela Arpaia, BA, also has many years of experience in identifying plant remains from California and Nevada, and she has presented scholarly papers on ancient California plant use.
Starch Grain Analysis
Starch grain analysis is an archaeobotanical research method long-used internationally, but still growing as a method used in California archaeology. Far Western’s Justin Wisely specializes in extracting starch grain residue using a non-destructive process with distilled water and a sonic cleansing technique, that can be used both in the lab and in the field. Wisely extracts samples to analyze under a microscope, working within a magnification range of 100x-1000x, and identifications are made based on Far Western’s ethnographically informed reference collection. Starch grain investigations can be conducted on a variety of artifacts and features, such as portable ground stone, flaked-stone, or bedrock milling features.
We are pleased to announce a new Principal in the firm: Dr. Daron Duke.
Daron Duke has been with Far Western since 2003 and serves as the Director of Far Western’s Desert Branch in Henderson, Nevada. He has worked in the Great Basin and California for more than 20 years.