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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 28, Issue 2, 2008

Volume 28 Issue 2 2008

Issue cover
Cover Caption: Front cover


Obsidian Acquisition and Exchange Networks: A Diachronic Perspective on Households in the Owens Valley

The last 2,000 years of prehistory in the southern Owens Valley of eastern California witnessed major changes in human subsistence, settlement, and technology. Using a household perspective, we test the hypothesis that these societies became increasingly focused on the nuclear and/or extended family as the basic economic unit. To this end, we examine patterns in the acquisition of exotic materials, especially obsidian and marine-shell beads, in relationship to other locally produced artifact categories. Results show (1) an increasing geochemical diversity in obsidian and an increasing density of non-local beads, indicating increased and geographically wider trading activities through time; (2) an increasing heterogeneity between household units in terms of access to non-local obsidian after 650 B.R, indicating differential access to exchange networks; and (3) a correlation between house size and obsidian diversity after 650 B.R, suggesting that larger domestic units differentially participated in the movement of exotic goods. These findings support the notion that households, as basic economic units, were increasingly focused on internal subsistence and exchange pursuits, rather than village- or communal-level activities, and that exotic material goods became increasingly privatized over time in association with the privatization of subsistence resources.

Kumeyaay Cultural Landscapes of Baja California's Tijuana River Watershed

The cultural landscape of the Kumeyaay living in the Tijuana River Watershed of Baja California embodies the sacred, symbolic, economic, and mythological views of a people who have lived in the region for centuries. Recent research on this region that integrates ethnographic, ethnohistorical, and (to a lesser degree) archaeological information reveals a landscape that is alive and imbued with power, sustenance, and legend — a dynamic construct that reflects both changing Kumeyaay relationships with the land and the group's continuity with the past Sacred sites, peaks, transformed rocks, magic boulders, and other geographic features associated with oral traditions populate the landscape. Ecosystems and areas of historic significance represent direct links with generations of ancestors and are still layered with meaning in the minds of descendants.


Going with the Flow: The Impact of Holocene Fissure Eruptions on Obsidian Source Use in Southeastern Idaho

A chemical analysis of diagnostic projectile points from the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in southern Idaho suggests that direct procurement of raw material from local obsidian sources was a long-term pattern in the region. However, significant trends in the frequency of specific sources associated with particular projectile point types were noted in this study. Statistical tests suggest that these trends are linked with atlatl versus bow and arrow technology. Although changes in mobility or population movements could have influenced this pattern of distribution, a more reasonable explanation for fluctuations in the frequency of particular sources suggests that they may be due to barriers created by Holocene lava flows that coincidentally prevented access during specific time periods.

Total Station Mapping: Practical Examples from Alta and Baja California

The use of electronic total data stations for mapping archaeological sites is examined through two California case studies. Mission Santa Catalina, located in the high desert of Baja California, and a cluster of three shell mounds, located in a forest in the San Francisco Bay area, represent two different examples of organizing and implementing a mapping program using a total station. In this article, we will discuss the basic use of total stations for mapping archaeological sites and provide an overview of the process of creating digital maps from data obtained using a total station. The two case studies will offer in-depth consideration of different data collection strategies and techniques used for the production of digital maps, and we stress the broad application of total stations for accurate and efficient mapping in a variety of study settings.

A Chipped Stone Crescent from CA-SMI-681, San Miguel Island, California

In this short paper we describe a crescent fragment recently found at a site on San Miguel Island. Crescents are important terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene time markers in California and the Great Basin, but knowledge about their distribution, chronology, and function is limited by incomplete reporting of their occurrences in the published literature. Although several crescents were found on the Channel Islands by antiquarians or early archaeologists, very few have come from known sites or specific contexts The crescent from CA-SMI-681 comes from an upland lithic scatter, a context that supports a utilitarian function associated with the manufacturing, use, and maintenance of points and related hunting equipment The crescent adds to the evidence for a substantial presence of Paleocoastal peoples on San Miguel and the other northern Channel Islands.

Lost and Found

Indian Fishing Contrivances / A Female Crusoe

Fish have long been recognized as having once comprised a particularly critical resource for native groups in many areas of California, and the various techniques employed in their extraction —whether from the ocean, rivers and streams, or lakes—were often both sophisticated and effective. The first account presented here (perhaps half of which is from previously published sources) provides a wealth of significant data, both old and new, on the construction and use of fish weirs in catching salmon in some of the state's major rivers. Parenthetically, it should be noted that the weirs described by Ringgold and Bidwell on the Sacramento River were entirely different structures, and were actually separated by some miles. The author and compiler, David R. Leeper, came to California during the gold rush, and later recounted his adventures and observations in The Argonauts of ‘Forty- Nine (1894). The article reprinted here was originally published in The American Archaeologist [Volume 2, Part 9, Sept 1898, pp. 227-230.] Leeper also contributed a number of other short articles on California Indians to The American Archaeologist and its predecessor The Antiquarian. The second account adds some additional historical context to the familiar story of the Lone Woman of San Nicholas, and makes it clear that her presence on the island and some details of her life there were well known years before her 'recovery' by George Nidever in 1853. It originally appeared in Boston's Daily Atlas on March 27, 1847.1am indebted to Steven Schwartz of the Point Mugu Naval Air Station Environmental Division for bringing this to my attention.


Voss: The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco

The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco Barbara L. Voss Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008,420 pp., 32 b/w photographs, 15 line illus., 12 maps, 25 tables, $45.00 (hardcover).

Carrico: Strangers in a Stolen Land: Indians of San Diego County from Prehistory to the New Deal

Strangers in a Stolen Land: Indians of San Diego County from Prehistory to the New Deal Richard Carrico El Cajon, CA: Sunbelt Books, 2008 (3rd. ed.), 216 pp., $14.95 (soft cover).