Publication of Seven Thousand Years of Native American History in the Sacramento Valley

Far Western is pleased to announce the publication of Seven Thousand Years of Native American History in the Sacramento Valley: Results of Archaeological Investigations Near Hamilton City, California, by Dr. William R. Hildebrandt and Kelly R. McGuire, with contributions by Dr. Adrian Whitaker and Dr. Brian Byrd, as well as Laboratory Director Laura Harold. Publication would not have been possible without close collaboration with the Mechoopda Indian Tribe.

This volume, available through the University of Utah Anthropological Papers, shares the discovery of four archaeological sites deeply buried under a young floodplain. The oldest site dates to 7,000 years ago and revealed a diverse assemblage of artifacts among a rich assortment of food remains. The other three sites date between 4000 and 300 years ago. These sites show changes in population density, technological innovation, and the rise of sedentism and territoriality. Dating to just before 300 years ago, the most recent site featured a house complex, likely occupied by the Mechoopda Indian Tribe and provided a culmination to the historical sequence evident in the artifacts and features.

The archaeological sites featured in this publication highlight the rich and diverse environment of northern California’s Sacramento Valley, which supported some of the densest populations of non-agricultural people in the world. The investigation also highlights how alluvium deposited during periodic flooding buries sites and their cultural remains, preserving an archaeological record that may be otherwise invisible on the surface of those landscapes that have only formed recently.

“This book is hugely important. It is the first publication that provides a well-supported backstory for the emergence of the California acorn economy. It includes fish and botanical remains from well-dated, well-sampled occupations that indicate reliance on acorns and fishing as far back as 7,000 cal BP., pushing the roots of this remarkable way of life thousands of years earlier than previously thought.”

—Terry L. Jones, professor of anthropology, California Polytechnic State University

“This will stand as important regional literature. The discovery of extremely ancient archaeological deposits in the Sacramento Valley, where old surfaces and sites are generally buried beneath thick alluvium, is of itself important. The study also reports on robust faunal and botanical assemblages that are largely lacking from this area.”

—Mark E. Basgall, professor emeritus, Department of Anthropology, California
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