Far Western Welcomes New Principal

We are pleased to welcome a new Principal to our Group: Dr. Adie Whitaker.

 

Adrian Whitaker Far Western Principal
Dr. Whitaker has been with Far Western since 2008 and has over 15 years of archaeological experience in California CRM.

He has authored numerous reports on the archaeology of California, while leading inventory and excavation projects from the San Francisco Bay to the Sierra Nevada to the Channel Islands. Building on data collected and collaborations formed during these projects, Adie has published numerous scholarly articles in regional, national, and international journals, including American Antiquity, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, the Journal of Archaeological Science, the Journal of Coastal and Island ArchaeologyCalifornia Archaeology, and the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology.

He is Editor of the  Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology and continues to play a strong role in the Society for California Archaeology.

Far Western will benefit greatly from Adie’s enthusiasm and leadership. We value his ability to meet the compliance needs of our clients while expanding our knowledge of California’s past. 

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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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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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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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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