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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 28, Issue 1, 2008

Volume 28 Issue 1 2008

Issue cover


Coso Rock Art Within Its Archaeological Context

Prehistoric rock art is a most obvious part of the archaeological record, yet some interpretative models increasingly distance this art from its archaeological context This is particularly true for the Coso rock art area, which has emerged as a "type locality" for a shamanic approach to rock art interpretation. The fundamental thesis of the current paper is that the meaning and antiquity of prehistoric rock art are best understood by placing the art within its contemporaneous archaeological context using routine analytical methods. We advocate a return to the archaeological approach of interpreting rock art and argue against the perpetuation of increasingly complex and confounding "explanations " based on untestable hypotheses extrapolated from ethnographic data with questionable linkages to the archaeological record. Reviews of local and regional chronological data, settlement patterns, and subsistence practices indicate that the production of Coso rock art tracked closely with the rise and fall of bighorn sheep hunting in the southwestern Great Basin. During the Newberry period (3,500-1,350 cal B.P.), when darts and atlatls provided the main technology, the hunting of bighorn sheep was a major component of the adaptation. When the bow and arrow were adopted during the Haiwee period (1,350 650 cal B.P.), hunting efficiency increased and ultimately contributed to the depletion of sheep throughout the region. We conclude that the proliferation of bighorn sheep petroglyphs during the Haiwee period reflects a unique local response to a regional problem. Responding to the over exploitation of a key food resource—bighorn sheep—local groups intensified their ritualistic practices, and did so in a way that vividly marked their territory and signaled their distinctiveness from neighboring groups in California and in other parts of the Great Basin.

Flaked Stone Tool Patterning as a Means for Inferring Fremont Obsidian Procurement and Exchange

The Hunchback Shelter (42BE751), located in the southeastern Great Basin, yielded a considerable amount of data on the prehistoric use of the site. Located adjacent to the Wild Horse Canyon and Schoo Mine obsidian sources, evidence indicates that Hunchback Shelter functioned as a camp where Archaic to Formative (Fremont) knappers produced both bifaces and expedient flake cores. The intent of these procurement visits appears to have shifted over time. Furthermore, the Fremont visits appear to be consistent with comparative evidence from Five Finger Ridge, a major Fremont village. These findings have important implications for understanding the relationship between procurement behavior and settlement structure, and the relative importance of biface versus core technologies during the Fremont period.

Hunchback Shelter: A Fremont Lithic Production Site in the Mineral Mountains of Eastern Utah

Hunchback Shelter (42BE751) is a small rockshelter in the northern Mineral Mountains, located less than 10 km. from one of the major obsidian sources in the eastern Great Basin. Excavation of the site yielded a large flaked lithic assemblage associated with occupations dating from the Late Archaic to the post Formative Late Prehistoric period. The data suggest that the shelter functioned as a seasonal campsite that was heavily oriented toward biface production throughout its long occupational history. Based primarily on flaked lithics and secondarily on other lines of evidence, we hypothesize that the flaked stone tools and debitage associated with the Fremont occupations may represent the work of independent, part-time craft specialists.


"Indian Rancherie on Dry Creek": An Early 1850s Indian Village on the Sacramento and San Joaquin County Line

Albert Hurtado published an intriguing picture in his book Indian Survival on the California Frontier that portrayed an Indian village on Dry Creek, near the present- day town of Thornton. After becoming fascinated by the image and the story that went with it, I tracked down some additional background information on the village and on an attack that it sustained from the neighboring whites. Aspects of the village shown in the drawing—including a mixture of what appear to be conical tule houses mixed with slab-sided tent-like dwellings, and what looks like a wooden stockade wall—suggest a mixed community with some background in European warfare. After consulting contemporary newspaper accounts and census records, additional details came to light on the incident. This article thus becomes a useful case study on the complicated Indian/White interactions, often leading to violence, of the 1850s.

The Copper Creek Clovis Point from Hells Canyon, Northeastern Oregon

Clovis points along the Snake River occur near the end of the anadromous fish runs at Auger Falls and on the upper Snake River plain between American Falls and Bannock Creek. However, before the discovery of the Copper Creek example described here, they were not known to occur in anadromous, high energy, streamside locales as far downstream as Hells Canyon. The Copper Creek specimen is an impact fractured Clovis point made from Gregory Creek obsidian, which outcrops 150 km. to the southwest. This source joins Timber Butte, Big Southern Butte, and the Walcott Tuff as the earliest obsidian sources exploited by Paleoindians along the middle Snake River.


A Response to Warren's Review of Five Thousand Years of Maritime Subsistence at CA-SDI-48, on Ballast Point, San Diego County, California

The Ballast Point report (Five Thousand Years of Maritime Subsistence at CA-SDI-48, on Ballast Point, San Diego County, California) was the first such report to document the complexity of maritime subsistence in San Diego County from circa 6,600 B.P. to 1,300 B.P. It was completed in 1988, and later published by Coyote Press in 1998, "with very minor editing and corrections." CRM reports by their very nature are usually not structured for publication; however, the Coyote Press publishers felt that this report was publishable in the format provided. Coyote Press is one of the few outlets for CRM publications and should be commended for publishing "grey literature," therein ensuring that these studies are available to the archaeological community.

Lost and Found

Official Report of Sameul P. Heintzelman, 1853

The report reprinted here was originally written by Samuel P. Heintzelman, the commanding officer of Fort Yuma, in 1853, although it was not published until 1857. It gives the reader a fascinating and relatively objective view of the state of interethnic relations, tribal life, and American military activities along the Colorado River during the early part of the 1850s; it also touches briefly on such disparate topics as Spanish attempts to establish a mission in the area, the Garra revolt, and the Oatman massacre, as well as on the effects of American emigration, floods, earthquakes, and geothermal events. Heintzelman's untitled report originally appeared in Indian Affairs on the Pacific, pp. 34-58. [U.S. Congress. House. 34th Congress, 3rd session. House Exec. Doc. No. 76. (Serial No. 906.) Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.] The interested reader can find further details in Samuel P. Heintzelman's Journal, 1851-1853, Fort Yuma. [Creola Blackwell, transcriber. Yuma: Yuma County Historical Society, 1989.] Several tables in Heintzelman's original report dealing with climatological data and troop deployments have been deleted.


Rick: The Archaeology and Historical Ecology of Late Holocene San Miguel Island

The Archaeology and Historical Ecology of Late Holocene San Miguel Island Torben C. Rick Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles, 2007. [Perspectives in California Archaeology 8.] Xii + 180 pp., 55 figs., 53 tables, references, index, $70 (hard cover), $40 (paper).

Little: Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters

Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters Barbara J. Little Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2007 207 pp., 11 figures, bibliography, index; $59 (cloth)/$22.95 (paperback). ISBN: 978-1-59874-022-6

White and King: The Archaeological Survey Manual

The Archaeological Survey Manual Gregory G. White and Thomas F. King Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press Inc., 2007,188 pp., extensively illustrated, bibliography, 4 appendices, index, $29.95 (paperback), $69.00 (hardback).

Hildebrandt and Darcangelo: Life on the River: The Archaeology of an Ancient Native American Culture

Life on the River: The Archaeology of an Ancient Native American Culture William R. Hildebrandt and Michael J. Darcangelo Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2008,120 pages, 3 tables and 65 figures, $13.95 (paper). ISBN 978-1-59714-086-7.