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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 17, Issue 1, 1995

Issue cover


Memorial to Demitri Boris Shimkin

Demitri Boris Shimkin, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Professor of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, died Tuesday, December 22, 1992, at Carle Hospital in Urbana-Champaign from cancer. He was 76 and is survived by his second wife, Tauby Heller, daughter, Eleanor Shimkin-Sorock, of Farmingham, Massachusetts, and stepchildren Rae Spooner of Urbana, Joel Weichsel of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Jeremy Weichsel of Montreal, Canada. Professor Shimkin's first wife, Edith Manning, died in 1984, and his son, Alexander, was lost (MIA) in Vietnam.

Christopher Raven: A Personal Appreciation

Christopher Raven died at Lagomarsino Canyon, east of Reno, on March 12, 1994, just five months past his fiftieth birthday. We were nearly the same age and had been good friends and professional associates for more than half our lives. He was an arresting figure: darkly handsome, unusually articulate, knowledgeable in music, art, literature, and film. He loved women, deserts, hot springs, travel, good food, good talk and good writing. Originally trained as a Mesoamericanist, he later made significant contributions to the archaeology of California and the Great Basin. Here I record some of what I know of his life and work.

Memorial to Clark W. Brott

Clark W. Brott died on July 26, 1993, of complications from AIDS. With his passing, California archaeology lost a creative scholar who, through his commitment to a holistic approach, made significant contributions in the areas of PaleoIndian and Overseas Chinese archaeology in California.


I'm an Indian, But Who am I?

Patrick Orozco has always known he is Indian, but 20 years ago knew little of his particular background or culture. Throughout these years, with great effort, he has recovered pieces of his identity, but still continues his search. Oral traditions, memories, intuitions, and recorded information are interwoven into the fabric of his identity.

A Nested Hierarchy of Contexts: An Approach to Defining Significance for Lithic Scatters

In recent years, several authors have tried to grapple with problems in the study of lithic scatters (e.g., Talmage et al. 1977; Jackson et al. 1988; Hall and Jackson 1993). A great deal more, however, can be done to help advance this objective. This paper attempts to add to the discussion by suggesting some other approaches to the assessment of their significance that may benefit their research and management potential.

Chronology of Elko Series and Split Stemmed Points from Northeastern Nevada

With these interpretations in mind, and considering that much of northeastern Nevada lies between the Bonneville and Lahontan basins, this paper addresses two related questions: (1) do Elko series points postdate split stemmed points in northeastern Nevada? and (2) do the split stemmed points in northeastern Nevada chronologically match those from the Bonneville Basin or those from the Lahontan Basin?

Chumash Architecture: Sweatlodges and Houses

The primary objective of this paper is to examine archaeological, ethnographic, and ethnohistoric information on Chumash houses and sweatlodges. Detailed archaeological accounts describing the attributes of Chumash houses and sweatlodges are rare in the published literature. Even when archaeological information on structural remains is presented, sweatlodges and houses are not always clearly identified as such (Harrison 1965). An extensive survey of published and unpublished archaeological examples of houses and sweatlodges, with attributes of each type of structure listed, was presented in an earlier work (Gamble 1991:48-176) that contains more detailed information. This paper is a synthesis of that more comprehensive examination of the subject, and only selected archaeological examples of structures are included in this discussion. It is hoped that as a result of this analysis, archaeologists will become more aware of structural remains and attempt to identify them in the archaeological record. In the past 20 to 30 years, very few structural remains have been identified in the Chumash area, particularly in contract archaeology. This situation is the result of a number of factors, including the emphasis on excavating small units (1 x 1 m.) for purposes of testing as part of the Environmental Impact Report process. In addition, there has been a positive emphasis on the recovery of small remains, such as bone and beads, which has required a shift to smaller mesh screening. Because processing time for these smaller remains increases dramatically, there has been a tendency to reduce the number and size of units in contract archaeology. This tendency for increased analysis of small remains should not be discouraged, but archaeologists, especially those involved in data recovery or mitigation, should attempt to look for architectural remains. If structural remains are observed at sites, analyses on subjects such as spatial patterning, activity areas, and features will be more meaningful. Other impediments to identifying architectural remains in the Chumash area include bioturbation, plowing, and other activities that make it very difficult to observe sites from surface indications. House pits are observable on the Santa Barbara Channel Islands; however, most site areas on the islands are not under threat, nor are they under the auspices of contract archaeology. Through increased awareness of the types of features associated with Chumash structures, hopefully a new trend will develop where greater emphasis is placed on the recognition of architectural features.

Faunal Exploitation During the Middle to Late Period Transition on Santa Cruz Island, California

This paper presents the analysis of faunal remains from four sites on the west end of Santa Cruz Island, California; a discussion of other Channel Island subsistence data; and a comparison across the three broad ecological zones of the Santa Barbara Channel area: the islands, the mainland coast, and the interior regions. The faunal analysis indicates that the inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island relied almost exclusively on marine resources, with terrestrial mammals and birds contributing relatively little to the animal portion of the diet. These data also demonstrate the increasing importance of fish through time, with marine fish being the most important animal resource in all three ecological zones during the Late Period. New information on ancient sea temperature for the period from approximately A.D. 1150 to 1300 indicates environmental change during that time period. Some of this information was derived from analysis of fish otoliths, a new method that may have broader application in coastal areas. These data support models that invoke environmental change as a factor in prehistoric cultural evolution in the Santa Barbara area, but do not indicate a major decline in marine productivity during the Middle to Late Period transition.


An Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) Radiocarbon Assay on a Bone "Hook Stone"

A San Nicolas Island "hook stone" manufactured of marine mammal bone was AMS dated to 3,480 ± 60 RCYBP. The vast majority of bird/pelican/hook stone effigies are of steatite or some other lithic material, and they are placed in the Late Prehistoric Period. If the genre begins well before Late Prehistoric times, then the earlier artifacts were probably being fashioned of less durable materials (e.g., wood). However, the early date of this "hook stone" may simply be the consequence of artisans selecting old bone to carve.

An Obsidian Fluted Point from Central Baja California

This report describes an obsidian fluted point fragment recently discovered in the central part of the Baja California peninsula south of San Ignacio, Baja California Sur. The basal fragment, which shows signs of impact breakage, is only the second fluted point reported for Baja California. The obsidian has been traced to the nearby Valle del Azufre source.


Comment on Chartkoff's A Nested Hierarchy of Contexts: An Approach to Defining Significance for Lithic Scatters

In this issue, Chartkoff (1995) outlined an approach to enable researchers to evaluate the significance of lithic scatters, a ubiquitous site type in California and elsewhere. He defined five levels of hierarchy: (1) The Within-Site Context; (2) The Assemblage as a Whole; (3) A Site in its Environmental Context; (4) Context of Cultural Systems; and (5) Context at the Regional Level. This approach is a useful tool in site research and likely will open new ways of thinking about lithic scatters. My comments here are a reemphasis, rather than a disagreement, of several important points noted—but not driven home—by Chartkoff.

Reply to Sutton's Comments on A Nested Hierarchy of Contexts: An Approach to Defining Significance for Lithic Scatters

Sutton's (1995) thoughtful comments on my paper (1995) raise several anthropological, philosophical, methodological, and managerial issues. These issues are of considerably broader significance than is the modest paper to which they refer. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to Sutton's comments and hope the dialogue will help cause these issues to be addressed more widely.


Byrd et al.: Prehistoric Settlement Along the Eastern Margin of Rogers Dry Lake, Western Mojave Desert, California

Prehistoric Settlement Along the Eastern Margin of Rogers Dry Lake, Western Mojave Desert, California. Brian F. Byrd, Drew Pallette, and Carol Serr, with contributions by Susan Smith and R. Scott Anderson (Pollen Analysis), Jean Hudson (Vertebrate Remains), Margaret Newman (Immunological Analysis), Thomas Origer and M. Steven Shackley (Obsidian Studies), Lisa Klug and Virginia S. Popper (Paleoethnobotanical Analysis). San Diego: Brian F. Mooney Associates Anthropological Technical Series 2,1994, ix + 192 pp., 58 figs., 66 tables, $25.00 (paper).

Byrd and Serr: Multi-Component Archaic and Late Prehistoric Residential Camps Along the Sweetwater River, Rancho San Diego, California

Multi-Component Archaic and Late Prehistoric Residential Camps Along the Sweetwater River, Rancho San Diego, California. Brian F. Byrd and Carol Serr, with contributions from John Beezley, Lynne Christenson, Margaret Newman, Thomas Origer, M. Steven Shackley, and Beta Analytic. San Diego: Brian F. Mooney Associates Anthropological Technical Series 1, 1993, xiii + 431 pp., 40 figs., 213 tables, 9 appendices, $25.00 (paper)

Blackburn and Hudson: Time's Flotsam: Overseas Collections of California Indian Material Culture

Time's Flotsam: Overseas Collections of California Indian Material Culture. Thomas C. Blackburn and Travis Hudson. Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 35. 1990, 225 pp., 30 photographs, tables, bibliography, index, appendix (out of print).