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Open Access Publications from the University of California

In Search of a White Bear: An Eccentric Crescent from Sudden Ranch (CA-SBA-208), Northern Santa Barbara County, California


Over the years, there has been considerable interest among archaeologists in the distribution, function, and chronology of chipped stone crescents in California and the western United States. Questions about their chronology and function have yet to be fully resolved, but such crescents are widely considered to be Early Holocene or terminal Pleistocene time markers. More than a thousand crescents have been identified from California archaeological sites, but a relatively small percentage have zoomorphic attributes, including a rare ‘bear-shaped’ specimen now listed as California’s of cial prehistoric artifact. About 20 years ago another bear- shaped crescent in the Lompoc Museum was brought to my attention, a specimen not described in previous syntheses of crescents in California and the Far West. The location of that crescent is now uncertain, but I recently found additional data on the provenience and context of this crescent in two unpublished manuscripts by Clarence Ruth. This rare artifact has an unusual history that sheds light on the development of California archaeology.

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