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.

 
 
 

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

2017 SCA Program

Click image to view entire program

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

“Most Inspirational” Film AND Telly Award

TACThe Archaeology Channel film jury voted Far Western’s “Breaking New Ground: Native Americans in Archaeology the winner of the “Most Inspirational” award at the TAC International Video and Film Festival held in Eugene, Oregon.

telly

 

 

 

Also, our new Silver Telly Award for the film arrived this month!

Designed by the same firm that makes the Oscar® and Emmy®, the statuette is nearly 12 inches tall and weighs more than 4 1/2 pounds. Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding videos and films.

The films are judged by a panel of over 650 industry professionals, each a past winner. Fewer than 10% of the nearly 12,000 entries, from all 50 states and numerous countries, were chosen as Winners of a Silver Telly, the highest honor.

Thank you to the Native Americans who shared their experiences and stories for this film,
including Two Bears, to whom the film is dedicated.

Capture6

Congratulations to all who worked on the film
and to Cinnabar Video!

Capture

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Now Available Online! “Life on the River” by Hildebrandt and Darcangelo

Life on the River Cover

Instructors often request Life on the River – The Archaeology of an Early Native American Culture for use in their classrooms only to find out that it is now out of print.

With permission from Heyday Books, Life on the River, by Far Western authors William Hildebrandt and Michael Darcangelo, is now available online for instructors, students, and others curious about Sacramento Valley archaeology.

Life on the River

Part of the Crew for the Shasta County
2005 Field Season.

The book describes archaeological techniques and discoveries found at a Shasta County site, located on the Upper Sacramento River. It details Wintu lifeways just before and during the arrival of Europeans.

Click HERE to open the PDF!

You can also find the book under our Public Outreach and Interpretation page, along with other Far Western outreach projects, PDFs, and videos.

Read the first page…

LifeOnTheRiver

Chapter I: Introduction

During the summer of 2005, thirty-six acres along the Sacramento River were subdivided into six residential lots. The land lies in Shasta County, about six miles south of Redding, California, within the original homeland of the Wintu Indians. One of the prime lots contained an archaeological site officially registered as CA-SHA-1043 and subsequently given the Wintu name “Kum Bay Xerel” (Shady Oak Village; Figure 1). After several failed attempts to develop construction plans that could avoid the site, the landowner decided that the project should move forward, but only after an archaeological excavation. The excavations were carried out by the authors of this publication and other members of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group, with help from several Wintu tribal members and professional volunteers from throughout northern California…read more!

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San Francisco SAA 80th Meeting Successes

Far Western at SAA Meeting

Laura Brink and Stephanie Bennett at the Far Western table for the 80th Annual SAA Meeting.


The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) met in San Francisco for their 80th Annual Meeting – their largest meeting yet! The SAA is an international organization dedicated to the research, interpretation, and protection of the archaeological heritage for the Americas. This year, Far Western was well-represented with many successful presentations, including the opening session, and poster sessions. Learn more about the Society for American Archaeology HERE.

Use the buttons below to see abstracts from Far Western presentations and collaborations!

Angela Arpaia
Plant Remains Assemblage in Santa Clara Valley

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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Film and Booklet Released

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

A Film by Phil Gross. Produced by Kelly McGuire.

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

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William R. Hildebrandt, PhD

William Hildebrandt, Far Western Anthropological Group
Bill Hildebrandt
Email Bill

Dr. Hildebrandt’s archaeological research focuses on hunter-gatherer adaptations in California, Oregon, and the Great Basin. Bill is also a leader in the field of cultural resources management, and he has helped many government agencies preserve and better understand important archaeological sites under their management. His research is published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals and he has authored numerous monographs and book chapters published by the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Los Angeles, University of Utah, and the Nevada State Museum. He is currently working on the evolution of prehistoric hunting patterns in California and the Great Basin, applying modern approaches of human behavioral ecology to this research effort.

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

Bill’s Featured Projects

Bill’s Featured Publications

Jones T.L., D.A. Jones, K.W. Gobalet, J.F. Porcasi, and W.R. Hildebrandt

2017

The Morro Bay Fauna: Evidence for a Medieval Droughts Refugium on the Central California Coast. American Antiquity 82 (2):203-222.

Hildebrandt, William R., and Kelly R. McGuire

2016

Large Game Hunting in the American West: A comment on Fisher’s (2015) Reassessment of the Ascendance of Hunting Debate. American Antiquity 81 (4):764-765.

Hildebrandt, W., K. McGuire, J. King, A. Ruby, and D.C. Young

2016

Prehistory of Nevada’s Northern Tier: Archaeological Investigations along the Ruby Pipeline. American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers, Number 101.

Bill’s Outreach Activities

  • Founding Member, Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc.
  • Editor of the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 2013-2017
  • President, Society for California Archaeology 2018-2019
  • Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis
  • Research Associate, Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History.

 

Cultural Resources Services

Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc. | Cultural Resources Management Services | Archaeology

Since 1979, Far Western has worked in partnership with private industry, government agencies, tribal organizations, and non-profit groups, to achieve the broader goals of the environmental review and compliance process. Today, we are recognized as one of the leading cultural resources consulting firms in the United States.
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(530) 756-3941
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Cultural Resources Inventory
Geoarchaeology
GIS and Cartography
Cultural Resources Evaluation and Testing
Cultural Resource Monitoring
Environmental Planning Support
Outreach and Interpretation