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

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.

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

Angela Arpaia

The Santa Clara Valley has an archaeobotanical record that spans from the central California Early, Middle, and Late periods. Sites CA-SCL-12, -478, -674, and -919 have robust plant remains assemblages from distinct periods that can be used to evaluate change in plant use and land management practices. Temporal context and habitat will be compared for each site to understand variation in plant diversity and intensification.

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

Laura Brink, Jelmer Eerkens (UC Davis), Alex DeGeorgey (Alta Archaeological Consulting), and Jeff Rosenthal

Analysis at two California Late Period sites, CA-CCO-297 and CA-SCL-919 Stable isotope analysis can reconstruct individual mobility of prehistoric California on a scale that can distinguish movement between different parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. This study uses strontium and oxygen isotope analysis to compare individual mobility patterns of two Late Period sites, CA-CCO-297 and CA-SCL-919. Three life stages are used for comparison, including early childhood from first molars, early adolescence from third molars, and adulthood/time of death from bone. Isotopic ratios from bone resulted in consistent and site-specific signatures for both sites, while enamel ratios were much more variable, suggesting higher mobility during childhood and adolescence than during adulthood. CA-SCL-919 is composed mainly of non-local individuals born in a wide variety of locations, while many individuals interred at CA-CCO-297 were born locally. Both sites revealed mobility shifts from childhood to adolescence, possibly due to post- or pre-martial residence changes. The data also suggest sexual differences in movement patterns, which may inform on post-marital residence patterns. This work gives insight into ancient kinship organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, differentiates site-specific mobility patterns from life-history mobility signatures, and provides testable hypotheses on the structure of post-marital residence patterns during the Late Period of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ryan Byerly
Geochemical and Physical Characterization of Lithic Raw Materials in the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania

Fitzgerald, Curran (Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Charles Egeland (Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina), Ryan Byerly, Cynthia Fadem (Department of Geology, Earlham College), and Audax Mabulla (Archaeology Unit, University of Dar es Salaam)

The study of raw materials has traditionally been deeply embedded in analyses of the Early Stone Age, and the impact of source rock characteristics on early human ranging behavior and technological variation is now widely acknowledged. Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, apart from being one of the most well-known paleoanthropological sites in the world, is also home to a great diversity of potential sources for the production of stone tools. While the lithology and mineralogy of these sources have been well described, quantitative data on inter- and intra-source geochemical and physical characteristics are still rare, which makes it difficult to rigorously test models of early human home ranges and raw material selectivity. This project reports preliminary quantitative studies of variation in the geochemical (via portable x-ray fluorescence) and physical (via standard engineering tools) characteristics of primary and secondary rock sources that presumably served as important supplies of toolstone for Early Pleistocene hominins at Olduvai Gorge.

Brian Byrd
The Neolithic Houses of California – An Ethnohistoric Comparative Perspective on Household and Community Organization among Complex Hunter-Gatherers

Brian Byrd

The talk addressed the built environment of complex hunter-gatherer villages of the contact period in California. Although not agriculturalists, they constitute one of the most diverse and well-documented amalgam of complex hunter-gatherers in the world. The study explores the interrelationship between vernacular architecture, households, community organization, and their socio-economic underpinnings. In doing so, highlighted case studies will include the Chumash of coastal southern California, the Patwin of central California, and the Wintu of northern California. Finally, consideration is given to the potential for ethnohistoric vernacular architecture of California hunter-gatherers to provide insight into fundamental variables in the development of Neolithic households worldwide.

Brian Byrd
Wadi Madamagh, Western Highlands of Jordan: Lithic Evidence from the Late Upper Paleolithic and Early Epipaleolithic Occupations

Olszewski, Deborah (University of Pennsylvania), Maysoon al-Nahar (University of Jordan), Daniel Schyle (University of Cologne), and Brian Byrd

Wadi Madamagh, a small rockshelter in the Petra region of the Western Highlands of Jordan, contained high-density deposits of the Late Upper Paleolithic and the Early Epipaleolithic periods. It was first excavated in 1956 by D. Kirkbride, who placed two trenches into the site and briefly reported on the lithics, which have since been studied in detail (B. F. Byrd). A small test along one of Kirkbride’s trenches was conducted in 1983 (D. Schyle), and more intensive excavations were pursued in 2011 (D. I. Olszewski and M. al-Nahar, as well as D. Schyle). As a result of decades of exposure due to the open trenches left by Kirkbride, the remaining deposits at Wadi Madamagh are unfortunately quite limited, especially those of the Early Epipaleolithic. In this paper, we address this issue in part by combining data from the lithic assemblages recovered from all three excavation seasons. This is thus the first comprehensive examination of the stone artifacts recovered from this site. It examines their significance for understanding the behavioral strategies of Late Upper Paleolithic and Early Epipaleolithic hunter-gatherer-foragers in this part of the Levantine Middle East.

Daron Duke
Haskett Spear Points and the Plausibility of Megafaunal Hunting in the Great Basin

Daron Duke

Recent Haskett projectile point finds from western Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert provide a compelling case for megafaunal hunting in the Great Basin, a region that stands out in North America for its lack of direct evidence. The Haskett style is likely the oldest representative of the Western Stemmed series of projectile points, and radiocarbon age estimates on black mat organics at the locality suggest a date range between ca. 12,000 and 13,000 cal BP. In this paper, an argument for megafaunal hunting is constructed for critical examination against alternatives. Images and technological attributes for the collection are presented, including one 22.6-centimeter specimen that is the longest Haskett point documented archaeologically and another that tested positive to proboscidean antiserum via protein residue analysis.

Tod Hildebrandt
Divergent Histories: Prehistoric Use of Alpine Habitats in the Toquima and Toiyabe Ranges, Central Great Basin

Tod Hildebrandt

Alpine villages are extremely rare in the Great Basin. To date, villages located at elevations above 10,000 feet are only known to occur in the White Mountains and the Toquima Range. Demographic forcing and climatic change has been used to explain the existence of these villages, but these propositions do not identify more specific selective pressures that led to the establishment of high elevation villages in some ranges but not others. Comparison of artifact distributions and environmental structure in the Toquima Range, where a village exists, and the Toiyabe Range, where one does not, supports the notion that alpine villages may have been subsidized by intensive exploitation of mid-elevation pinyon groves associated with low-cost travel corridors, which facilitated transport of pine nuts to upland village locations. This study also reveals that limber pine may have played a role in alpine village subsistence, and identifies the need for further research on the value of this resource.

William Hildebrandt and Kelly McGuire
Middle Archaic Expansion into High Elevation Habitats: A View from the Southwestern Great Basin

William Hildebrandt and Kelly McGuire

Several researchers have hypothesized that high elevation habitats were not intensively used until after 4000 cal BP when lowland settlements became more stable and logistical hunting organization emerged. This paper evaluates this hypothesis by comparing the relative frequency of Pinto versus Elko/Humboldt series projectile points across a variety of lowland and upland settings in the White Mountains/Owens Valley area.

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

Philip Kiajankoski, Jack Meyer, and Paul Brandy

Occupation in the San Francisco Bay Area The effects of landscape evolution on the archaeological record of the San Francisco Bay Area have been profound, primarily due to rising sea levels. These changes are illustrated through a trans Holocene “tour” of the bay that incorporates the landscape context of many sites featured in subsequent papers. For the region’s first inhabitants, this area was a vast inland valley rather than the state’s largest estuary. The Holocene transgression is illustrated utilizing a new sea-level curve developed for region, which is based on an analysis of over three hundred radiocarbon dates from marsh deposits in the bay and delta. This curve is used to reconstruct the extent of the bay at various times in the past, illustrating just how much of the landscape once available for prehistoric human populations is now submerged. The terrestrial response to rising sea levels during the latter portion of the Holocene included infilling of formerly incised stream channels, alluvial deposition on surrounding floodplains, and the formation of extensive wetlands and dune fields, as illustrated by recent geoarchaeological studies from the region. These examples show how large-scale landscape changes structured the region’s archaeological record, and likely explain why the early portions of California’s past are poorly represented.

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

Lucas Martindale Johnson

To the uninitiated, Maya “eccentrics” are vague archaeological labels applied to flaked obsidian objects placed in ritual caches during the Classic Period (AD 250-800). Although labels of humanoid, deity, animal-like, or other shaped objects are often unclear, lithics analysts have tried to define eccentrics based on technological attributes to enable comparisons between contexts, sites, and regions. Those studies that reconstruct a complex chaîne opératoire demonstrate many eccentrics had a dynamic socio-technological biography prior to their deposition in ritualized contexts. After 30 years of systematic investigations, the Caracol Archaeological Project has recovered many ritual cache deposits of Maya “eccentrics”. Caracol eccentrics are typically terminated or disabled exhausted polyhedral blade cores, but can also be broadened to include (modified) macro-core shaping flakes/blades, platform preparation, and core rejuvenation debitage – all those objects that help to create and maintain, a socio-technological blade industry. The broad household ritualization of these objects through specific crafting acts demonstrates that non-blade objects were essential to social relations between obsidian crafters and socially diverse household ritual practitioners. This paper defines these ritualized objects technologically to highlight the performative production by obsidian crafters and presents their distributions at households to understand their circulation to non-crafters for use in household ritual events.

Jack Meyer
Holocene Transformation of San Francisco Bay and Transbay Man Site Stratigraphy

Jack Meyer

San Francisco Bay was created by post-glacial sea-level rise during the span of prehistoric human occupation. The Bay is the single largest Pacific estuary in the Americas (4,160 square kilometers) and is the outlet for California’s largest freshwater drainage system that carries 40% of the state’s runoff. The earliest known evidence of widespread human use of the estuary or tidal resources in the Bay Area first appears at shell midden sites located around the Bay in the middle Holocene (6300-4600 cal BP). Recently, however, an intact human skeleton (“Transbay Man”) was found at an elevation of 12.8 meters (42 feet) below sea level in downtown San Francisco, which is the fourth, and oldest (~7600 cal BP) such skeleton recovered from a submerged context in the region. The stratigraphic sequence and paleoenvironmental context of this rare and unusual find are examined in relation to Holocene sea-level rise and landscape changes that transformed the Bay Area into an ideal place for prehistoric human settlement.

Michelle Rich
From A Forest of Kings to the Forests of Peten: The Mirador Group at El Perú-Waka'

Michelle Rich

More than 10 years of research at El Perú-Waka’, carried out under the co-direction of David Freidel and several Guatemalan collaborators, has resulted in a wealth of information about this ancient city and the role its rulers and residents played in the Classic Maya world. Enhanced through his work with Linda Schele, Freidel’s persistent focus on the interplay between ancient history and archaeology—on stelae, buildings, and people—has shaped research at Waka’, located in Guatemala’s Laguna del Tigre National Park. The Mirador Group, one of the site’s principal civic ceremonial settings, was an initial focus for the El Perú-Waka’ Regional Archaeological Project. While the Mirador Group’s stelae are either blank or largely eroded, archaeological investigation of the monumental architecture has shed light on topics explored in A Forest of Kings, including the role of Teotihuacan, Tikal, and Calakmul in Classic period interactions. This paper will explore Waka’s involvement in these relationships, particularly as evidenced by the Mirador Group’s royal interments and the narrative figurine scene depicting an elaborate courtly ritual.

Nathan Stevens and Jeffrey Rosenthal
Geology, Historical Contingency, and Ecological Inheritance in California's Southern Sierra Nevada

Nathan Stevens and Jeffrey Rosenthal

The Late prehistoric archaeological record of the Southern Sierra Nevada can be distilled down to two very visible elements: bedrock mortars and obsidian. Both were imported from outside the area, with obsidian coming from the east and the idea of the bedrock mortar coming from the west. We argue that the presence of transported obsidian, much of it deposited prior to 1000 cal BP, and the later establishment of bedrock mortars encouraged more persistent use of this landscape. We see this as an example of the downstream effects of niche construction.

Adrian Whitaker and Brian Byrd
An Ideal Free Settlement Perspective on Residential Positioning in the San Francisco Bay Area

Adrian Whitaker and Brian Byrd

We present an Ideal Free Distribution Model to explore the successful establishment and spread of hunter-gatherer residential settlements around the perimeter of San Francisco Bay, California. Our objective is to illuminate underlying ecological and social factors that best explain the spatial distribution of occupation in the region. Our model determines relative habitat suitability based on a series of environmental factors including drainage catchment size, rainfall, terrestrial productivity, and littoral productivity. In doing so, we also account for diachronic shifts in shoreline location and its impact on resource distribution. Then we test this model using a robust database of more than 500 prehistoric residential sites around the Bay (of which more than a third have produced chronological data), and ethnohistoric insights into settlement location by linguistic group. The talk concludes with consideration of the effect of social as well as ecological factors in structuring temporal trends in settlement configuration and subsistence strategies that formed the basis of this rich archaeological record.

Eric Wohlgemuth
Environmental Constraints and Plant Food Intensification in the Sacramento Valley

Eric Wohlgemuth

The Sacramento Valley bottom is a rich environment for faunal resources, notably fish, but lacks staple nut crops found elsewhere in interior central California. The absence of key nut resources appears to be the key factor in intensified production of geophytes and the early intensification of small seeds, especially Chenopodium spp. These features are absent in other regions in the rich archaeobotanical record of central California.

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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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Far Western Occasional Speaker Series

Far Western Speaker Series

The Far Western Speaker Series provides a forum where scholars can present their research, and discuss their ideas. Speakers and audience members are diverse, and include some of the top academics in the country, graduate students engaged in cutting-edge research, and archaeologists from the contracting world. Lectures are held at the Far Western Lab at 2727 Del Rio Place, Davis, CA 95618 from 5-7pm.

Selected Occasional Speaker Citations
Upcoming2018201720162015201420132012

November 14, 2018 – Thomas Whitley SSU

Carly Whelan

2018

An Acorn in the Hand is Worth Two in the Granary: Future Discounting and Food Storage in Prehistoric California. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. May 2018.

Randy Haas

2018

The Last Altiplano Foragers: Archaeology, Ethnoarchaeology, and Economics at 7000BP and 3800masl. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. March 2018.

Albert Gonzalez

2018

Excavating Latinidad: Archaeologies of Latinxs in the United States. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. February 2018.

Daron Duke

2018

The Paleoindian Archaeology of the Old River Bed Delta. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. January 2018.

Daron Duke

2018

The Paleoindian Archaeology of the Old River Bed Delta. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. January 2018.

Jack Meyer

2017

The Deep Archaeological Record of San Francisco Bay. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. November 2017.

Hadick, Kacey

2017

Innovations in Reality Capture Technologies for Heritage Sites + Virtual Reality Demonstration. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. October 2017.

Greenwald, Alexandra M.

2017

Parental Investment Strategies and Women’s Foraging Efficiency in Central California.Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. June 2017.

Jazwa, Christopher S.

2017

Settlement, Seasonality, and Climate on Santa Rosa Island, California. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. April 2017.

McGuire, Kelly

2017

The Potential Role of Geophytes, Digging Sticks, and Formed Flake Tools in the Western North American Paleoarchaic Expansion. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. February 2017.

Younie, Angela M.

2016

Two Early Sites in Alaska: a Dramatic Tale of Legacy Collections, Lithic Technology, and Community Perspectives in the Research of the First Americans. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. December 7, 2016.

Sullivan, Alan P.

2016

Fire Farming and Food Security in the Prehistoric Upland Southwest: Some Implications of New Evidence from the Grand Canyon Area. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. October 19, 2016.

Wisely, Justin

2016

Starch Grain Analysis of Bedrock Mortars in the Sierra Nevada Mountains: Experimental Studies to Determine their Function. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. September 21, 2016.

Martindale Johnson, Lucas

2016

Following the Movement of Stone: A Study of Ancient Maya Obsidian from Caracol, Belize. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. May 25, 2016.

Byerly, Ryan

2016

Toolstone Source Characterization in the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. April 20, 2016.

Lambert, John M.

2016

Paleoindian Colonization of the Recently Deglaciated Great Lakes: Mobility and Technological Organization in Northern Wisconsin. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. March 30, 2016.

Higgins, Courtney

2016

Diving into Digital Data: A Look at 3-Dimensional Modeling Applications in Underwater Archaeology. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. February 24, 2016.

Hampson, Jamie

2015

Rock Art and Contested Identity. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. November 4, 2015.

Zwyns, Nicolas

2015

The Upper Paleolithic of Eurasian Steppe Belt: A View from Northern Mongolia. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. October 21, 2015.

Warnash, Scott

2015

Archaeology of the World Trade Center: Lessons Learned from Two Very Different Recovery Approaches. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. September 24, 2015.

Lenzi, Mike

2015

The Utility of Experimental Archaeology for Addressing Research Questions: A Case Study of Crescents from the Western United States. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. September 10, 2015.

Murphy, Laura R.

2015

Geoarchaology, Paleoenvironments, and Hunter-Gatherer Landscape Interactions: Case Studies from the Great Plains, USA. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. June 10, 2015.

Munson, Jessica

2015

Cultural Variation in Classic Maya Royal Rituals: A Lexical Perspective. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. April 29, 2015.

Scholnick, Jonathan B.

2015

Stylistic Patterns and Culture Change: Revisiting Eighteenth-century New England Gravestones. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. March 25, 2015.

Wohlgemuth, Eric

2015

Limits to the Central California Acorn Economy: Fine-grained Floral Findings from the Lower Sacramento Valley. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. February 25, 2015.

O’Connell, James F.

2015

Where Shall We Have Lunch? The First Colonization of Australia 48,000 Years Ago. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. January 22, 2015.

Smith, Kevin N.

2014

San Nicolas Island Fishhook Production. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. December 3, 2014.

Tremayne, Andrew H.

2014

The Origin and Development of Maritime Adaptations in Northern Alaska: An Ecological Perspective. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. November 19, 2014.

Whelan, Carly S.

2014

Hunter-Gatherer Storage and Settlement: A View from the Central Sierra Nevada. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. May 21, 2014.

Lightfoot, Kent

2014

The Anthropocene in California: An Eco-Archaeological Perspective. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. February 20, 2014.

Smith, Chelsea M.

2014

Stable Isotope Analysis to Reconstruct Dog and Fox Diet on San Nicolas Island. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. January 22, 2014.

Woodfill, Brent

2013

Community Engagement and Industrial Archaeology at a Classic-Period Maya City in Guatemala. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. December 3, 2013.

Ugan, Andrew, and Jeff Rosenthal

2013

Planorbids, People, and Paleolakes: Freshwater Molluscs and their Implications for Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Human Occupation of China Lake Basin, Western Mojave Desert. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. November 13, 2013.

Rich, Michelle

2013

El Perú-Waka’, Guatemala: Archaeological Research in a Classic Maya Kingdom. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. September 26, 2013.

Sandos, James A., and Patricia B. Sandos

2013

Mapping Social and Cultural Change at a California Mission: San Jose, 1797-1840. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. August 22, 2013.

Eerkins, Jelmer

2013

Why Fishing and Hunting Matter: Health and Diet in Prehistoric Central California. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. May 15, 2013.

Barker, Pat

2013

Animal Imagery in European Ice Age Cave Art. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. March 20, 2013.

Costello, Julia

2013

Summer in Tyre, Southern Lebanon. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. February 27, 2013.

Bartelink, Eric

2012

Forensic Anthropology: Past, Present, and Future. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. December 5, 2012.

Bettinger, Robert

2012

Hunter-Gatherer Origins of Millet Agriculture in China. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. November 13, 2012.

Bartelink, Eric

2012

Interpersonal Violence in the Prehistoric San Francisco Bay Area. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. June 6, 2012.

Stevens, Nathan

2012

Technological Plasticity and Cultural Evolution Along the Central Coast in California. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. May 29, 2012.

Darwent, John

2012

Beach Ridge Archaeology on Cape Espenberg, Alaska. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. May 16, 2012.

Garvey, Raven

2012

Saying Uncle to Mother Nature: The Middle Holocene in Andean Argentina and Other Arid Regions. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. April 11, 2012.

Zeanah, David

2012

Diesel and Damper: Disintensification among the Martu of Western Australia. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. March 20, 2012.

Yengoyan, Aram A.

2012

World’s Fairs and Exhibitionary Complex: Civilization and Culture (1851-1940). Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Davis, California. February 15, 2012.

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