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Open Access Publications from the University of California

"Invisible" Archaeological Deposits at Small Milling Sites


If we are to more completely understand the development of the native cultures of the California coast, we must have more and better chronological data on which to base our interpretations. The most powerful chronological tool we have continues to be radiocarbon dating. Carefully selected, analyzed, and interpreted radiocarbon dates help us refine our chronologies by placing cultural developments in a more precise temporal framework. They also provide valuable data on shifts in settlement and demography through time (see Glassow et al. 1988). Despite these obvious facts, there are many important archaeological collections or sites that have never been radiocarbon dated, or that remain inadequately dated. So many sites in California are threatened by erosion, vandalism, or development that collecting more and better chronological data should be an urgent priority. Fortunately, CA-SMI-1 is not threatened by erosion or development. It is, however, one of the few archaeological sites on San Miguel Island for which significant excavation data are available. Two radiocarbon dates from the middle levels of the midden suggest that at least two separate occupations of the site took place, one about 7,000 years ago and another beginning about 3,350 years ago. As is often the case, further dating and detailed research are needed to place the archaeological assemblage from CASMI- 1 in a more refined cultural and ecological framework.

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