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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Organization of Artifacts, Features, and Activities at Pitas Point: A Coastal Chumash Village


Remains of house structures, refuse heaps, and activity areas within a coastal Chumash village are examined in this paper in order to describe the internal organization at a Late Period archaeological site in southern California. Methods of analysis include visual inspection of the distribution of artifact types and features, contingency tests, and examination of graphs resulting from standardization and other processes. All feature types are described in detail. Then, with the aid of ethnographic analogy and the use of historic records, activity areas are delineated. Activities that occurred within houses are distinguished from those that took place outside houses. In addition, specific activity loci are defined, such as basketmaking areas.

Knowledge about the relationships among artifacts and features within a site is important in understanding the uses of artifacts. The distribution of different artifact types often indicates the locations and types of activities that occurred at a site. Although houses in the Chumash area have been excavated, little is known about the organization of activities within houses. Archaeological evidence from the Pitas Point site, located in the Santa Barbara Channel region, offers an excellent source of data for addressing these problems.

Using the available data, I will attempt to demonstrate that there was a non-random distribution of artifact types at the Pitas Point site. Certain areas excavated are believed to be inside house structures on the basis of stratigraphic evidence. It is proposed that there are expectable differences between the types of artifacts occurring within as opposed to outside these structures. By using simple quantitative statistical techniques, including chi-square tests, this hypothesis will be tested. Once the range of activities performed inside house structures has been determined, features within these structures such as hearths or clusters of tarring pebbles will be identified. Ethnographic and historic data in conjunction with the archaeological record will be used to suggest the types of activities that took place at the site. Other activities described in the ethnographic record undoubtedly occurred at the Pitas Point site, but will not be discussed until more data have been examined.

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