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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 34, Issue 2, 2014


Matrilocality in the Middle Period in San Francisco Bay? New Evidence from Strontium Isotopes at CA-SCL-287

We explore strontium (Sr) isotope analysis as a means to reconstruct ancient migration patterns of individuals at SCL-287, a Middle Period site in southern San Francisco Bay. Comparison of Sr isotopes from rst molars to that of bone suggests that males frequently immigrated to the site, while all females were born at or near the site. This pattern is consistent with a preference for matrilocal post-marital residence patterns. At the same time, analysis of third molars indicates that individuals frequently shifted residence during early teenage years, even those who were born and lived as adults at SCL-287. While adult residence shifts are commonly reported in the ethnography of Central California, matrilocality is not. In this respect, isotopic analyses allow us to generate new hypotheses about ancient migration patterns in prehistory independent of those reported in the ethnographic literature.

Historical Shifts in Native American Subsistence Strategies: An Examination of Store Ledgers from Owens Valley

Issues of resource intensi cation and subsistence change have long been important topics in archaeology, especially in the Owens Valley and the broader Great Basin. However, shifts in historical diets have been largely neglected as a potential source of data that can inform models of subsistence change. This paper explores dietary preferences and shifting economic patterns among native populations during the early history of the Owens Valley (ca. 1870 –1920), using a number of unpublished archival materials, including store ledgers, newspapers, and population records. Information from these documents reveals that Native Americans were selective consumers of Euroamerican foods and purchased only a limited suite of items. These purchases largely conformed to predictions derived from the diet breadth model, and primarily centered on highly-ranked foods such as our, sugar, bacon, and lard. Regularly purchased store-bought foods generally ranked higher than traditional plant resources, most of which were rapidly abandoned during the historic period.

An Olivella Grooved Rectangle Bead Cluster from San Nicolas Island, California

A survey on San Nicolas Island found a cluster of over 4,200 shell beads associated with Middle Holocene archaeological deposits eroded from a coastal dune at CA-SNI-12. Among the 12 bead types recovered were more than 146 Olivella Grooved Rectangle (OGR) beads, including a previously unknown subtype with diagonal grooves, >3,000 Olivella cap beads, and nearly 400 Olivella spire-removed beads. Direct AMS radiocarbon dates (~5,000 cal B.P.) on two bead fragments con rm the Middle Holocene age of the feature. Between approximately 5,400 and 4,400 cal B.P., California’s southern Channel Islands appear to have been the focal point of OGR bead production and use, though these beads have been found in a variety of archaeological contexts across western North America. The broad distribution but short temporal duration of these beads makes them an important Middle Holocene indicator of bead production and exchange in California and the Great Basin.

Aboriginal Alpine Ceremonialism in the White Mountains, California

At 3,609 m. (11,840 ft.) elevation in the White Mountains of Eastern California is a site containing 216 rock features consisting of cairns, pits, and other stacked-rock constructions but very few artifacts. Two obsidian bifaces, two milling tools, and lichenometric dating point towards site occupation between 440 and 190 cal B.P., contemporaneous with the White Mountains Village Pattern, which was marked by intensive seasonal occupations of multi-family groups in the alpine ecozone of the range. Though the site’s features are similar to facilities associated with artiodactyl hunting across the American West, their diversity, abundance, and distribution are more consistent with ceremonially-oriented sites on the Plains, in the Mojave Desert, and especially on the Plateau. This, in conjunction with the site’s setting, suggests that there were ritual functions associated with the site, and that the ceremonial use of high-altitudes has been overlooked in the region’s research history.

Takelma Prehistory: Perspectives from Archaeology in the Elk Creek Dam Project in Southwest Oregon

Between 1965 and 1989, archaeological investigations in connection with the Elk Creek Dam Project, some 60 km. north of the California border in Jackson County, Oregon, documented a record of Native American occupation and activity that began at least by 4,000–5,000 years ago and continued until shortly before contact between the Takelma people and Euro-Americans in the mid-nineteenth century. The dam project was cancelled in 1988, and a nal synthesis of the investigations was never prepared. This article highlights some of the important contributions made by the substantial archaeological research conducted for the Elk Creek Dam Project. The ancestors of the Takelma appear to have had a close relationship with prehistoric peoples to the east and south over the last several thousand years, with the evidence pointing to the existence of an interaction sphere connecting the Northern Takelma with native groups in northern California in late prehistoric times.

Prehistoric Bighorn Sheep Procurement Tactics in the Colorado Desert: A Hypothesis for a Stone-Feature Complex in Yaqui Pass, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

Lines of rock cairns have been recorded in several areas in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The stone-cairn line features are sometimes associated with stone walls, either natural or built, which may represent hunting blinds. The stone features are within or adjacent to areas known to be regularly used by groups of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). Here, we argue that the lines of rock cairns and associated structures form complexes that were both built and used by indigenous people for procuring bighorn sheep. Several lines of evidence support this hypothesis, including behavioral characteristics of bighorn sheep, locations where stone-feature complexes have been recorded, ethnographic accounts, biological observations, and data from radio-collared bighorn sheep in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.


The “High Languages” of Native California as Indices of Social Rank: A (Re)Consideration

This paper examines the statement generally offered in support of the argument that “high” or “refined” languages were spoken by members of elite classes in California Indian societies prior to contact with Europeans. It suggests that California’s “high languages” had more to do with formal or ceremonial contexts than with the everyday construction of identity. Rather, it appears that what have been termed “high languages” are examples of prestigious or formal styles or registers of a single language. Special styles and registers are two types of speech occurring in most if not every society on earth, and which are commonly associated with public oratory, oral literature, and formal or ceremonial contexts. These varieties do not provide a useful form of evidence for the existence of ranked social classes in California native societies on a par with other forms of evidence such as specialized clothing or displays of wealth.

Obsidian Re-Use at the Rose Spring Site (CA-INY-372), Eastern California: Evidence from Obsidian Hydration Studies

We report on a re-analysis of the obsidian from Rose Spring (CA-INY-372), Inyo County, California, based on obsidian hydration dating. The computed projectile point ages for Desert Series, Rose Spring Corner- Notched, Elko, and Humboldt Basal-Notched points fall within the expected range, which gives con dence in the analytic technique. The projectile points are younger than the debitage, even though both points and debitage experienced similar temperature histories, and the age difference is statistically signi cant at the 95% con dence level. Five of the Rose Spring Corner-Notched points show evidence of having been reworked from earlier points. The debitage age data also show a dependence on depth, but not as strongly as the radiocarbon data, probably due to vertical mixing. Both the mixing and the earlier age for the debitage suggest that tool stone on hand as debitage was salvaged and reutilized for tool manufacture, as a substitute for logistical traveling to gather lithic material from its source in the Coso volcanic eld.

Spatiotemporal Distributions of Tegula spp. on Vandenberg Air Force Base: Ramifcations for Identifying Diet Breadth Expansion

A database of marine shell from 70 archaeological assemblages at Vandenberg Air Force Base reveals substantial temporal and spatial variability in the distribution of turban snails (Tegula spp.). Consideration of both variables is crucial to identi cation of diet breath expansion in the context of subsistence stress and resource diversification. At Vandenberg AFB, increased use of Tegula during late prehistory strongly correlates with spatial proximity to prime Tegula habitat (Purisima Point) at sites on a landform that is less than 2,000 years old. When sites near prime habitat are excluded, increased Tegula use correlates very poorly with time, and long-term diet breath expansion to include a lower-ranked species is not supported. However, the evidence does point to short-term increased use of Tegula during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, a time of known environmental stress.



Louis Arthur Payen (Jr.)

Born 30 January 1940 in Sacramento, and a lifetime resident of California, Sam Payen (as he was known by colleagues, friends, and family) was an archaeologist with an enduring focus on California native cultures and prehistory. More broadly, though, he mastered an incredible body of knowledge about northern and central California ethnography and prehistory, excavated numerous prehistoric sites, recorded many rock art sites, and explored caves in the Sierra Nevada for archaeological deposits. He also excavated historic sites and became sufficiently knowledgeable about historical archaeology that his expertise was sought out by others to help in analyzing historic artifacts recovered in the course of their projects. He participated in salvage excavations at reservoir construction and other sites, carried out eldwork on rock art and surface lithic assemblages in Baja California, studied Paleoindian archaeology, and critically evaluated alleged pre-Clovis discoveries across North America. He engaged in a very wide range of research activities, as detailed in the listing of his writings presented here, which identi es the colleagues with whom he worked and the major sites and projects that were involved. The list of writings is no doubt incomplete, and several projects on which he collaborated remain to be nished.