Far Western Receives 2017 Governor’s Historic Preservation Award

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.

Project Background

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.

Whistle with Asphaltum-embedded Shell. Post-900 cal BP.  Click image to view in 3D!

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.

It includes:

  • 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.

 
 
 

GIS Awarded 1st Place at Esri Conference

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.

Sharing the Past – Far Western Contributes to the 51st SCA Annual Meeting

2017 SCA Program

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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.

In addition to behind the scenes work organizing the program by Adie Whitaker, Production Supervisor Nicole Birney produced the program using a database designed by Partner Jay King

A special thank you to Nicole Birney and Jay King for assisting with program organization and to Tammara Norton for contributing to our 2017 SCA presentations. 

Organized Paper Symposium

Organizer: Kaely R. Colligan
Minding the Gap: New Perspectives on the Study of Gender and Archaeology
Organizer: Kaely R. Colligan
The Society of California Archaeology has chosen the theme “Sharing the Past” for the 2017 meeting, to bring the membership together and to identify what unifies the past and present. This symposium will focus on different aspects of studying gender in archaeology and how this translates to modern-day gender issues. Topics include the history of women in the field of California archaeology, feminist perspectives on archaeological thought/theory, and how prehistoric/historic gender roles are revealed in archaeological assemblages. The goal is to bring forward new perspectives on old theories, and shed light on modern issues in our field.

Organized Poster Symposium

Organizer: Allika Ruby
Salvaging the Past at CA-SBA-1703: A Case Study in Archaeological Inquiry
Organizer: Allika Ruby
In 2015, Far Western conducted salvage excavations along US 101 in Goleta after Caltrans construction workers exposed a buried portion of CA-SBA-1703. The site was an Early Period midden found within an extremely disturbed context. Departing from the traditional CRM reporting format, Far Western produced a concise volume with abundant graphics intended to be used primarily by college educators seeking to introduce their students to archaeological practices using a contemporary, realistic, and unexpected scenario. The volume highlights challenges often encountered by archaeologists working on project-driven excavations. This poster session presents selected issues and findings documented in that report.

A Time Capsule in the Center of Chaos
Patricia Mikkelsen
Interesting characteristics from flaked stone assemblages recovered during the Ruby Pipeline project portray varied production patterns across the northern swatch of Nevada. Single-component assemblages reveal a transition from obsidian dominate landscapes in the west to cryptocrystalline silicate areas in the east over time. Data from these areas support several trans-Holocene changes in tool stone selection, production intensity, and reduction strategies which can be linked to broader changes in demography, land-use patterns, and work organization – most notably, the changes that occur late in time when the intensity of flaked stone production crashes and people’s interest in biface reduction declines as well.

Changing Fishing Practices on the Shores of Goleta Slough
William Hildebrandt
Investment in boating and netting technology intensified on the shores of Goleta Slough and other central coast estuaries in the Middle Holocene. Most of this activity focused on estuary habitats, but the technology was applied to relatively deep water settings beyond the kelp beds from time-to-time as well. Exploitation of these deeper water habitats did not occur among people living in outer coast settings away from estuaries, probably because the economic returns from deeper water habitats alone did not justify the construction of watercraft required to reach them in a safe and productive manner.

Listening to the Ancestors: A Chumash ‘ich’unash at SBA-1703
Terry Joslin
A large, Late Period, deer tibia bone whistle was the first item seen by the archaeological monitor after being called to SBA-1703. Chumash informants nearly uniformly associate this type of flute with `antap ceremonies. Regional studies have identified an increase in flute size, along with deeper tones, over time, to be more effective during ceremonies where large numbers of people were present. Many of these flutes have shell beads applied to them with asphaltum, and several additionally have leather wrappings.

Where the Land Meets the Sea: Site Stratigraphy and Landscape Context of CA-SBA-1703
Philip Kaijankoski
Researchers have long recognized that some coastal estuaries have contracted during the Holocene due to sedimentation. However, the timing and maximum extent of a former estuary is difficult to determine without extensive subsurface exploration, which has not yet been conducted in the Goleta Valley. Early archaeological and geological studies hypothesized that at one time Goleta Slough covered a vast area, extending inland to CA-SBA-1703. This is despite historic mapping depicting the site several kilometers away from the estuarine margin. Through a detailed review of existing data sets this hypothesis is critically analyzed.

Mind the Gap: Field Methods at SBA-1703
Allika Ruby and Nathan Stevens
Working at SBA-1703 was not for the faint of heart. Crew members contended with a constricted work space along the margins of a yawning construction pit, hemmed in by an active railroad corridor on one side and a major freeway on the other side. Archaeologists improvised ways to safely access the preserved portions of the site without compromising scientific methods.

A Tale of Two Features: Faunal Bone Recovered from SBA-1703
Allika Ruby and Andrew Ugan
Two buried, fire-affected rock features were found only a few meters apart at SBA-1703. Each contained faunal bone and shell, as well as charred nuts and seeds. However, radiocarbon dating established they were separated in time by a span of about one thousand years. Both features demonstrate that estuarine shellfish and small schooling fishes were important dietary constituents. However, the earlier feature (ca. 3829 -3637 cal BP) shows an emphasis on islay nuts while the later feature (ca. 2750-2180 cal BP) indicates that the diet had shifted to a stronger emphasis on terrestrial game, primarily deer-sized animals.

Parallel Sequences of Marine and Plant Resource Intensification in Santa Barbara and the San Francisco Bay
Eric Wohlgemuth
Charred plant food debris and indices from the Santa Barbara mainland coast decline markedly with intensification of marine resources at about 6,000 years ago. The decline in plant vs. marine foods is strikingly similar to patterns seen about 3,000 years later on the eastern and northern San Francisco Bay shore. In both regions, plant food debris and indices increase millennia after marine food intensification, at ca. 3000 BP on the Santa Barbara coast and after ca. 1000 BP along San Francisco Bay. These patterns are relevant to the priority of aquatic faunal resources posited by Keeley (1991).

Papers

Brian F. Byrd, Patricia Mikkelsen and Shannon DeArmond

Re-visualizing Regional Indigenous Persistence—A San Francisco Bay-Delta Area Perspective for Archaeologists
Brian F. Byrd, Patricia Mikkelsen and Shannon DeArmond
This paper provides a framework, largely through modeling and visualization, on traditional indigenous village persistence in the San Francisco Bay-Delta region. We explore spatial variation in the pace of colonial impact during a 50-year period using Milliken’s Community Distribution Model of Spanish Mission baptism data. In particular, we focus on the tempo of ancestral village and abandonment, highlight areas where decades of continuity in occupation after 1776 are expected, and areas where more nuanced Native persistence is anticipated. Finally, we touch on archaeological implications of these movements and persistence, and potential approaches to investigate these complex patterns.

Kaely R. Colligan

The Working Mother: Gaining Resources and Prestige as a Prehistoric Female
Kaely R. Colligan
Men’s ability to gain prestige in their communities, primarily through hunting and other forms of resource gathering, is well-substantiated in the archaeological record. But a woman’s ability to gain prestige or authority, particularly while providing caring for offspring, is an issue that has received far less attention. An analysis of the archaeological record from a socio-behavioral perspective suggests that modern women do not have a monopoly on prestige-gathering, and that prehistoric women also exhibited competitive behavior aimed at attracting mates through the collection and storage of resources, basketry/textile design, and settlement patterns. 

Jay King

Rock Art and Archaeology of Upper Smoke Creek Canyon, Lassen County
Jay King
Smoke Creek Canyon contains an extensive complex of petroglyphs, including the “Bruff’s Rock” site, originally described in 1850 and thought to be the first California rock art ever described by a Euro-American. A recent survey reveals a rich and varied archaeological record in close association with the petroglyphs, including an extraordinary quantity of milling tools, as well as large residence-sized rock rings and other features. This close association between rock art and residential features offers the opportunity to comment on both the likely age and the social context of the rock art’s production.

Jack Meyer

Once Upon a Time with Two Cents and Three Minutes
Jack Meyer
Three-Minute Artifact Forum: Sharing the Past

Patricia Mikkelsen

What’s Left to Say about Ground Stone?
Pat Mikkelsen
Three-Minute Artifact Forum: Sharing the Past

Andrew Ugan, Katie Bonham, and Justin Wisely

Soaproot (Chlorogalum pomeridianum): Miracle Plant or Just Another Dirty Little Root?
Andrew Ugan, Katie Bonham, and Justin Wisely
Among ethnographically important California plants, soaproot (Chlorogalum pomeridianum) receives little attention, despite use as a food, medicine, mastic, dye, source of fibers, detergent, and fish poison. In an effort to explore this dichotomy we provide a quantitative assessment of soaproot’s value, detailing its nutritional composition, collection costs, and effectiveness as a toxin. We show that return rates are high and effectiveness as a fish poison low. Given these points we would expect soaproot to have been widely consumed, but almost never used as toxin. We conclude by discussing the implications of these points for our understanding of prehistoric soaproot use.

Justin Wisely
Starch Grain Analysis of Bedrock Mortars in the Sierra Nevada: Implications to Our Understanding of Bedrock Milling Features
Justin Wisely
Bedrock mortars are ubiquitous throughout California and their function has been a longstanding question for archaeologists. Many have assumed a function associated with acorn intensification, but McCarthy took the time to conduct an in-depth ethnographic study on their function. It was this work that helped inspire my own research into bedrock mortar function, and gave me a start in questioning the assumptions about other often-dismissed cultural remains such as fire-cracked rock. This paper will present the starch grain analysis of bedrock mortars research conducted for my master’s thesis that was partly inspired by McCarthy’s landmark work, and the future avenues.
Eric Wohlgemuth

Challenges to Archaeological Field Methods in the Conifer Forest: An Example from Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Eric Wohlgemuth– Plenary Session
The conifer forest zone of the Sierra Nevada can be a difficult place to do archaeology. Even for sites with well-defined component areas, the dearth of subsurface features with associated datable organics obscures accurate dating of artifact assemblages. Further, the lack of well preserved faunal remains, and the difficulty in associating plant macrofossils with artifact assemblages, limits subsistence reconstructions. Data recovery excavations at CAL-277/H at Big Trees State Park attempted to solve these problems through large block exposures, selective recovery excavation, stratigraphic excavation for fine-grained samples, large-scale flotation sampling, and starch grain recovery from bedrock milling features and grinding tools.

Posters

Angela Arpaia and Eric Wohlgemuth

CA-SCL-677: Challenging the Status Quo of Plant Use Intensification Trend in Santa Clara Valley
Angela Arpaia and Eric Wohlgemuth
Archaeobotanical remains collected from sites in Santa Clara Valley follow trends seen in sites throughout interior Central California. Early period sites exhibit generalized and balanced use of nuts and berries with minor use of small seeds, followed by intensification of acorn in Middle Period sites, culminating in intensive use of both acorn and small seeds in Late Period sites. Middle Period site CA-SCL-677 is unique in having very abundant small seeds; possible reasons for the anomaly include habitat, site use, and population density. 

 

To learn more, please visit the SCA Proceedings compiled by Proceedings Edtior, Allika Ruby

Experimental Archaeology at Far Western

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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. 

Published: Prehistory of Nevada’s Northern Tier
American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers
Number 101

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Far Western is proud to present the publication of

Prehistory of Nevada’s Northern Tier: Archaeological Investigations along the Ruby Pipeline

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.

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All issues of Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History are available on the web from:
http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace

Order printed copies on the web from:
http://shop.amnh.org/a701/ap101-2016-prehistory-of-nevada-s-northern-tier.html

or via standard mail from:
American Museum of Natural History—Scientific Publications
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024

Abstract
Prehistory in Nevada's Northern Tier: Archaeological Investigations along the Ruby Pipeline
The Ruby Pipeline originates in Opal, Wyoming, travels westward across Utah and Nevada, and terminates in Malin, Oregon. Almost 360 miles of the line is in Nevada, where it crosses through some of the most remote, sparsely populated land in the lower 48 states. Despite the remote nature of this corridor, it has produced a rich archaeological record reflecting a dynamic history of land-use pattern changes over a period of at least 13,000 years. Archaeological excavations were conducted at 578 prehistoric sites prior to construction of the pipeline. The sites were distributed across four ecological regions, including (from west to east): the High Rock Country, Upper Lahontan Basin, Upper Humboldt Plains, and Thousand Springs Valley. First evidence of human occupation dates to the Paleoindian (14,500-12,800 cal b.p.) and Paleoarchaic (12,800-7800 cal b.p.) periods, when people spent most of their time in the High Rock Country where important economic resources reached their highest densities. Paleoindian findings are limited to a series of Great Basin Concave Base projectile points and small obsidian flaked stone concentrations. Paleoarchaic sites are much more common, and tend to be represented by Great Basin Stemmed projectile points, bifaces, and a limited number of other flaked stone tools. Most of these assemblages reflect small groups of hunters refurbishing their tool kits as they traveled through the area. An important exception to this pattern was found at Five Mile Flat along the west end of pluvial Lake Parman where two significant habitation sites dating to 11,180 cal b.p. were discovered. One of these sites includes a house floor, which is the oldest ever found in the Great Basin. Despite the warm-dry conditions that characterized much of the middle Holocene, it appears that human populations nearly doubled during the Post-Mazama Period (7800-5700 cal b.p.). Most activity remained concentrated in the High Rock Country, but evidence for occupation begins to trickle out into the Upper Lahontan Basin and Upper Humboldt Plains regions as well. Most of the artifact assemblages remain rather narrow, often composed of Northern Side-notched and Humboldt Concave Base points, bifaces, and debitage, and reflect use of the region by mobile groups of hunters. Major changes took place with the arrival of the Early Archaic (5700-3800 cal b.p.) and continued forward into the Middle Archaic Period (3800-1300 cal b.p.). Early Archaic projectile points are largely represented by Humboldt and Gatecliff forms. It appears that population densities increased almost fourfold from the preceding interval, and all four regions experienced significant occupation for the first time. Simultaneous to this population increase and dispersal, a full complement of site types began to emerge, with large-scale residential areas becoming significant for the first time. This trend continued forward into the Middle Archaic Period where the relative frequency of residential sites almost doubled compared with the Early Archaic interval. Plant macrofossil and archaeofaunal assemblages also become more abundant and diversified at this time, probably marking a broadening of the diet breadth. This general trajectory extends into the Late Archaic (1300-600 cal b.p.) and Terminal Prehistoric periods, as people continued to expand into a wider range of habitats. This was particularly case for the latter interval, as the habitat preferences that made sense for over 12,000 years were upended, with population densities highest in the Upper Humboldt Plains and Thousand Springs Valley. This reorientation corresponds to the arrival of Numic speaking populations, especially the Western Shoshone who appear to have reached northern Nevada much earlier than the Northern Paiute, and is probably linked to a greater emphasis on small-seeded plants that are abundantly present in their territory. Although low ranked compared to many other foods, with the proper technology and work organization, small seeds could support higher population densities than was the case earlier in time. Finally, the discovery of obsidian in multiple Terminal Prehistoric sites from sources located much further away than any other time in the past may signal the earliest use of horses in northern Nevada.
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Shannon DeArmond, B.S.

Shannon DeArmond featured imageShannon DeArmond

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

Byrd, Brian F., Patricia Mikkelsen, and Shannon DeArmond

2017

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..

Inventory
Evaluation and Testing
Effects Mitigation
Geoarchaeology
Sensivity and Constraints
Environmental Planning Support
GIS and Cartography
Monitoring
Public Outreach and Interpretation

Archaeological Artifact Analysis and Collections Management

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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.

Archaeobotanical Analysis

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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.