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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 29, Issue 1, 2009


A Cremation and an Inhumation from the Dover Over ow Site (CA-MER-415), Merced County, California

In 2003 and 2004, theCenter for Archaeological Research at California State University, Bakers eld, conducted Phase I and II studies at CA-MER-415 (also known as the Dover Over ow site), a prehistoric (or possibly protohistoric) site located in western Merced County north of Los Banos, California. During the Phase II study, a cremation and an inhumation were discovered. The cremation feature contained the remains of at least two individuals, an adult and a juvenile. The inhumation feature consisted of the remains of a young female who stood just over ve feet tall. Radiocarbon dates associated with these individuals demonstrated that CA-MER-415 was likely inhabited between approximately A.D. 1520 and 1700. In this article, the cremation and inhumation features are described in detail, and a discussion is provided regarding their potential signi cance for the archaeology of the northern San Joaquin Valley.

Cupule Petroglyphs as Elements of the Cultural Landscape

Cultural landscapes include places where California Indians have interacted with the supernatural aspects of their world. These places can be landmark rocks with power that had to be maintained and managed. The rocks may have unusual shapes, or they may have been modi ed by incising, carving, or grinding; for example, they may have been ground or drilled to create cupule petroglyphs. One criterion probably used by prehistoric people in selecting a residential location would have been the proximity of rocks with power, which were sometimes enhanced or accessed with cupules. Ethnographic and archaeological data suggest that cupules were an accessible way for people to contact the supernatural as part of their everyday existence.

Invoking Occam’s Razor: Experimental Pigment Processing and an Hypothesis Concerning Emigdiano Chumash Rock Art

In 1824, the coastal Chumash revolted against the oppressive mission system and some ed to the interior mountains. Lee (1979) has hypothesized that unusual pigments at the interior rock art site of Pleito Creek (CA-KER-77) may have been brought from Mission Santa Barbara during this revolt. Documentation between 1999 and 2003 included several studies designed to learn more about the makeup of these pigments. To test Lee’s hypothesis, experiments with locally available minerals were performed in an effort to reproduce similar exotic colors. Ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archaeological sources suggest traditional usages of these colors. Adopting Occam’s razor and the principle of parsimony, the simplest explanation is that the exotic colors at Pleito Creek were made from pigments from local, nearby sources, rather than being imported from further a eld. On the basis of superimposition analysis, the hypothesis is advanced that historic period rock art may have been made using an expedient, directly applied charcoal-black pigment

Another Trans-Holocene Sequence from Diablo Canyon: New Faunal and Radiocarbon Findings from CA-SLO-585, San Luis Obispo County, California

Originally reported by Roberta Greenwood in 1972, CA-SLO-585 is one of two sites near Diablo Canyon on the coast of San Luis Obispo County in central California to produce early evidence for trans-Holocene occupation. New radiocarbon dates show that the site is marked by Early–Middle (7,000–3,400 cal. B.C.) and Late (1,000 cal. B.C. to historic contact) Holocene components, both representing residential bases. The Early – Middle Holocene (Milling Stone) component is dominated by the remains of black-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, and sea otters, along with evidence of the extinct ightless duck. Fish remains show a reliance on rock sh and cabezon. While California mussel dominates the shell remains, modest quantities of estuarine clam and cockle remains support the existence of the Halcyon Bay paleo-estuary. The Late Holocene (Middle and Late Period) component shows the continued importance of deer, an increase in sea otters, and the disappearance of the ightless duck, all of which are comparable to CA-SLO-2, the other trans-Holocene site at Diablo Canyon. Fish remains and shing artifacts are more abundant in the Late Holocene levels, suggesting a modicum of marine intensi cation. CA-SLO-585 has greater stratigraphic integrity than CA-SLO-2, where inter-component mixing was apparent. Nonetheless, it shows the same basic patterns, including a trans-Holocene reliance on deer. At a minimum, these ndings suggest that deer populations were unevenly distributed in western North America during the Early – Middle Holocene and, where present, were consistently exploited.


Hackel: Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769–1850

Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005 476 pp., 33 ills., 7 gs., 38 tables, 4 maps, appendices, glossary, chronology, notes, index; $59.95 (cloth), $22.50 (paper).


Foraging and Prehistoric Use of High Elevations in the Western Great Basin: Evidence from Seed Assemblages at Midway (CA-MNO-2196), California

Artifacts, features, and faunal remains indicate that the use of high-elevation resources in the Great Basin increased with theestablishmentofalpinevillagesafterA.D.600.Villagesareseenaspartofaregionalintensi cationresultinginmore diverse diets utilizing greater amounts of low-return resources. Seeds from the Midway site in the White Mountains show that the duration of occupation increased during village times. However, there was no relative increase at Midway in low-return plant foods (small seeds), nor any change in seed assemblage diversity once sample size was controlled for. Evidence also shows that people were not primarily using local alpine plants, but were transporting ricegrass and pine nuts from lower elevations. Floral evidence, paired with faunal data, points to a population increase resulting in resource depression and falling average return rates as the reason for the establishment of alpine villages.

Archaeoastronomical Implications of a Northern Chumash Arborglyph

The first known Chumash tree carving from south-central California was recently discovered in the Santa Lucia Range of San Luis Obispo County. We present Saint-Onge’s hypothesis that the principal symbolic element of this arborglyph represents Ursa Major, known as ’ilihiy, and Polaris (the North Star), known as Shnilemun or the Coyote of the Sky, in Chumash oral literature. Some of the most famous rock art sites in south-central California contain a similar motif. Furthermore, the position of this image at many of these sites appears to be one that affords unobstructed views of the North Star. This research builds upon previous studies of archaeoastronomical links between Chumash ritual and rock art. We present further evidence that periodic celebrations were held in conjunction with certain predictable celestial events throughout the year, and that the symbolism of the counterclockwise rotation of Ursa Major around the North Star was embodied in Chumash ceremonial behavior.


Diary of the Inland Excursion Undertaken by Padre Prefect Payeras in Union with Padre Sánchez from San Diego to San Gabriel

Unlike most of the items included in Lost and Found, the following selection is from a previously unpublished source. It consists of an annotated translation of a short but signi cant Spanish account of an exploratory survey into inland portions of Southern California that was undertaken in 1821 by two Franciscan missionaries in order to locate and evaluate potential mission sites. Both the original diary and the 1999 translation are presently on le at the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. It should be noted that some of the translator’s original editorial comments have been deleted, combined, ampli ed, or rephrased for clari cation or simpli cation, and a few of Sánchez’ botanical terms reinterpreted to better re ect California Spanish vocabulary. I am greatly indebted to John Johnson and Jan Timbrook of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for calling this important account to my attention, carefully checking the transcription against the original document, and providing additional information on plants mentioned in the text, and to José Álvarez for permission to publish the translation here.