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Elkhorn Slough Revisited: Reassessing the Chronology of CA-MNT-229


Recognition of this earlier occupational component has significant implications for regional settlement histories and cultural chronology. Subsequent treatments of central coast culture history (Jones and Hylkema 1988; Jones et al. 1989) have relied heavily upon data from this location to define the Middle Period. Recent discussion of early Holocene settlement along the central California coast has been forced, following the original conclusions on the dating of CA-MNT-229, to interpret an apparent absence of early coastal sites in the Monterey Bay area (Breschini and Haversat 1991a: 125 - 132). Breschini and Haversat suggested that this absence may be attributed either to sea-level rise (1991a: 127) or to the ruggedness of the Monterey Bay shoreline relative to more habitable inland terrain (1991a: 131). The early component now recognized at CA-MNT-229 supports recent findings from CA-SON-348/H (Schwaderer et al. 1990; Schwaderer 1992) and other sites, where the antiquity of human presence in the coastal zone of central California has been found to be substantially older than suggested by the corpus of previously available data. Since the original interpretation of the chronology of CA-MNT-229 has been questioned elsewhere (Jones and Hildebrandt 1990:73; Bouey and Basgall 1991:52), this paper is simply intended to set the record straight and present a revised assessment of the dating of this important site. The following discussion emphasizes those aspects of the excavation that bear on the dating of the site—radiocarbon, obsidian hydration, shell and glass beads, and flaked and ground stone artifacts. Descriptions of the rest of the material inventory recovered from this location are included in the original site reports (Dondero 1984; Dietz et al. 1986, 1988).

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