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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 30, Issue 1, 2010


A Shell Midden in the Upper Gulf of California: Challenging the Paradigms of Isolation and Marginalization?

The archaeological site known as “El Faro” is located in the upper Gulf of California region of the Baja California peninsula. Archaeological work within this area of Baja California has been limited, and the investigation presented in this article is the most extensive to date in the region. This research, combining surface reconnaissance with three eld seasons of excavation, has yielded data that allow for the reconstruction of the subsistence patterns of the site’s inhabitants through time. Additionally, we have been able to establish that the late occupation inhabitants of the El Faro site had a system of exchange with neighboring Yuman regions. The subsistence and trade evidence together allows us to comment on the proposed isolation and marginalization of the prehistoric groups in Baja California.

Prehistoric Occupation of Espíritu Santo Island, Baja California Sur, Mexico: Update and Synthesis

Excavations conducted between 1996 and 2006 at 30 sites on Espíritu Santo and La Partida islands in Baja California Sur, Mexico, reveal a long record of cultural occupation with shell middens located in caves, rockshelters, and on mesa tops. Cultural occupation began during the terminal Pleistocene at the J17 Covacha Babisuri and J69E La Ballena #3 sites and intensi ed during the early Holocene in open mesa and some rockshelter sites. Most cave and rockshelter sites were occupied until the contact period, but mesa sites were apparently abandoned during the middle Holocene. Extensive shell middens were created after 4,500 B.P., rst near mangroves in the backs of bays and later at the entrances to bays.

Exploring Baja California’s Submerged Landscapes Amy E. Gusick and Loren G. Davis

Recent research utilizing paleolandscape reconstruction and targeted underwater survey has led to the discovery of prehistoric cultural material on the submerged landscape off of Espíritu Santo Island, Baja California Sur. Our ability to identify preserved inundated cultural remains suggests that Baja California’s unique geography and environment may be favorable for identifying evidence of late Pleistocene coastal occupations. Indeed, survey data identifying unique geomorphological and environmental characteristics clari es the various factors that made this region attractive to early hunter­gatherer populations, and also explains why Baja California may be integral in the search for some of the earliest coastal inhabitants of the New World.


Glassow, Perry, and Paige: The Punta Arena Site: Early and Middle Holocene Cultural Development on Santa Cruz Island

Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Contributions in Anthropology 3, 2008, 101 pp., 20 b/w gures, 2 maps, 27 tables, $21.95 (soft cover).

Dana,Jr.: AYankeeinMexicanCalifornia,1834–1836

Berkeley, California: Santa Clara University and Heyday Books. 96 pp., 7 illus. $9.95 (paper).

Loendorf: Thunder & Herds: Rock Art of the High Plains

Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press Inc., 2008. 254 pp., 101 gures, 3 tables, $89.00 (cloth), $29.95 (paper).


The following list of recent master’s theses, like the list of dissertations that appeared in the previous issue of the Journal, is intended to call attention to scholarship that might be relevant to a reader’s particular research topic but that might otherwise be missed. Unlike dissertations, which doctoral candidates are normally required to le with Dissertation Abstracts (and that therefore can be searched for online and readily found), master’s theses can be easily overlooked, especially in California—surprisingly, only a handful of local state universities require their students to le a master’s thesis with a public database, and most seem to make little effort to call attention to their students’ scholarly achievements at any level. thus many of the theses listed here cannot be found on the ProQuest database entitled Dissertations & Theses: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. the sole exception to the preceding generalization is CSU Sonoma, which grants an M.A. in Cultural Research Management—a complete list of their theses is available online at http://www.sonoma. edu/anthropology/ma_program_thesis_titles. For that reason, they have not been included here.

Beck and Jones: The Archaeology of the Eastern Nevada Paleoachaic, Part I: The Sunshine Locality

Salt Lake City, the University of Utah Press, 2009 University of Utah Anthropological Papers 126, 262 pp., 151 gures, notes, appendix, references, index, $40 (paper) ISBN: 978-0-87480-939-8


Contextualizing Baja California

Early European explorers and missionaries who first set foot in Baja California described the peninsula as a harsh environment, lled with “savage” tribes of simplistic people (see Laylander 2000:96–100). these early explorers typically arrived in Baja California by way of Mesoamerica, and their views on the simplicity of the peninsular cultures were undoubtedly in uenced by the monumental architecture, agriculture, and robust material culture of the Mesoamericans. Written accounts of these first explorations have influenced perceptions of the peninsula and its inhabitants for generations, apparently leaving many researchers to consider the region as nothing more than a vast desert, as uncomplicated in its cultural landscape as it is in its ecological landscape. the hunter-gatherer- sher groups living in Baja California were overshadowed by their Mesoamerican neighbors and were left virtually unstudied for decades.

Inferring Relationships Between Indigenous Baja California Sur and Seri/Comcáac Populations Through Cultural Traits

Cultural relationships between historic Baja California Sur indigenous groups are poorly understood, despite the presence of historical accounts of these peoples. Relationships between groups largely have been reconstructed through linguistic attributes recorded by Jesuit missionaries. Non­linguistic cultural traits derived from historical accounts also can be used to determine relationships between groups. We use content analysis to systematically organize cultural trait information from historical explorer accounts, Jesuit missionary documents, and academic research pertaining to three Lower California groups: the Pericú, Guaycura, and southern Cochimí, as well as the Seri/Comcáac Indians of the Gulf of California and Sonora. Reliability analyses reveal considerable cultural homogeneity between the southern Cochimí and Guaycura, and cultural dissimilarity between all other groupings. Hierarchical cluster analysis reveals the Guaycura and southern Cochimí comprise a distant, but natural grouping with the Seri/Comcáac, while the Pericú are isolated. Several hypotheses are presented to explain these patterns.

REVIEWS David Wayne Robinson

Hull: Pestilence and Persistence: Yosemite Indian Demography and Culture in Colonial California

Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2009, 392 pp., 13 gures, 24 maps., $45.00 (hardcover).


Spanish Missions in the Indigenous Landscape: A View from Mission Santa Catalina, Baja California

Mission Santa Catalina was founded on the margins of the Spanish colonial frontier in northern Baja California, but over time it became an important place in the indigenous landscape of the region. Dominican friars established the mission at a crossroads of native interaction, and recent archaeological, archival, and ethnographic research suggests that indigenous mission neophytes continued to engage in dynamic social and economic relationships with other native groupsthroughoutthecolonialperiod.Atthesametime,however,thediversenativepeopleswholivedatSantaCatalina formed new bonds to each other and to the lands around the mission itself. Together, these two processes suggest that the mission’s neophyte population was not isolated from the broader indigenous landscape, and that although it was marginal from the point of view of the Spanish, Santa Catalina was—and continues to be—an important place in native Baja California.


Survivals of the Stone Age

In 1897, David R. Leeper initiated a discussion on the survival of lithic technology in California in the short­ lived journal the Antiquarian and its successor the American Archaeologist, and started a debate that ran for several issues and to which a number of pioneering figures contributed. Their recollections of early days in the state and their encounters with native peoples often reflect some of the cultural biases of the day, but they also contain interesting observations and valuable data available nowhere else. The more significant of these are reprinted here, with a few gures, some lengthy quotes from published sources, and extraneous materials deleted. The deletions are indicated by points of ellipsis; the interested reader will nd the complete, original texts readily available online through Google Book Search.