Todd J. Braje

Todd J. Braje
San Diego State University | SDSU · Department of Anthropology

Ph.D.

About

162
Publications
73,590
Reads
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3,279
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2018 - July 2019
California Academy of Sciences
Position
  • Chair
August 2016 - present
San Diego State University
Position
  • Professor
August 2014 - July 2016
San Diego State University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Education
September 2003 - June 2007
University of Oregon
Field of study
  • Anthropology

Publications

Publications (162)
Article
In a rejoinder to Gill et alia (2021), Martin (2022) accuses us of perpetuating misconceptions about human nutrition and erroneously describing geophytes as a dietary staple. We provide authoritative definitions for the terms “essential” and “dietary staple” to show that it is Martin who mischaracterizes and misunderstands the foundational role of...
Article
Full-text available
Historical ecology has revolutionized our understanding of fisheries and cultural landscapes, demonstrating the value of historical data for evaluating the past, present, and future of Earth’s ecosystems. Despite several important studies, Indigenous fisheries generally receive less attention from scholars and managers than the 17th–20th century ca...
Article
The places in which people live and spend time are steeped in history, memory, and meaning from the intersection of daily life, environmental interactions, cultural practices, and ritual. Geologic features, plants, animals, and ecosystems merge with these cultural histories, forming critical parts of the landscape and areas of “high cultural salien...
Article
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Archaeologists have long emphasized the importance of large-scale excavations and multi-year or even decades-long projects at a single site or site complex. Here, we highlight archaeological field strategies, termed coring, profiling, and trenching (CPT), that rely on relatively small-scale excavations or the collection of new samples from intact d...
Article
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There is growing evidence for human use of geophytes long before the advent of agriculture. Rich in carbohydrates, geophytes were important in many coastal areas where protein-rich marine foods are abundant. On California's Channel Islands, scholars have long questioned how maritime peoples sustained themselves for millennia with limited plant reso...
Article
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The arrival of modern humans into previously unoccupied island ecosystems is closely linked to widespread extinction, and a key reason cited for Pleistocene megafauna extinction is anthropogenic overhunting. A common assumption based on late Holocene records is that humans always negatively impact insular biotas, which requires an extrapolation of...
Article
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During the last 10 years, we have learned a great deal about the potential for a coastal peopling of the Americas and the importance of marine resources in early economies. Despite research at a growing number of terminal Pleistocene archaeological sites on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, however, important questions remain about the lifeways of...
Article
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As the number of academic manuscripts explicitly referencing the Anthropocene increases, a theme that seems to tie them all together is the general lack of continuity on how we should define the Anthropocene. In an attempt to formalize the concept, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) is working to identify, in the stratigraphic record, a Global St...
Article
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The island laboratory concept has long been an important construct in island archaeology, with an emphasis on human biogeography and issues of isolation, connectivity, interaction, evolution, and extinction. The Pacific Coast of Alta and Baja California contains several offshore islands that offer a framework for evaluating a variety of cultural an...
Chapter
Chinese immigrants, like many other fortune seekers from around the world, arrived in California in search of economic opportunities. Enterprising Chinese fishers and merchants soon built the first commercial, trans-Pacific fisheries in the American West by expertly honing time-honored skills and technology, leveraging diverse partnerships, and tap...
Article
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Environmentally transformative human use of land accelerated with the emergence of agriculture, but the extent, trajectory, and implications of these early changes are not well understood. An empirical global assessment of land use from 10,000 years before the present (yr B.P.) to 1850 CE reveals a planet largely transformed by hunter-gatherers, fa...
Article
Late Pleistocene estuaries, palaeoecology and humans on North America's Pacific Coast - Volume 93 Issue 372 - Jon Erlandson, Torben Rick, Amira Ainis, Todd Braje, Kristina Gill, Leslie Reeder-Myers
Article
Full-text available
Since the collapse of the Clovis-first model of the peopling of the Americas some 30 years ago, there has been growing interest in the Pacific Coast as a potential early human dispersal corridor. With postglacial eustatic sea level rise inundating most New World paleoshorelines older than ~7000 years, however, locating terminal Pleistocene sites al...
Article
High-resolution Chirp sub-bottom data were obtained offshore from the Northern Channel Islands (NCI), California, to image submerged paleoshorelines and assess local uplift rates. Although modern bathymetry is often used for modeling paleoshorelines, Chirp data image paleoshorelines buried beneath sediment that obscures their seafloor expression. T...
Article
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Forty years ago, Knut Fladmark (1979) argued that the Pacific Coast offered a viable alternative to the ice-free corridor model for the initial peopling of the Americas—one of the first to support a “coastal migration theory” that remained marginal for decades. Today, the pre-Clovis occupation at the Monte Verde site is widely accepted, several oth...
Article
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In the desert of southeastern California, the geological and archaeological remnants of a once massive lake, Lake Cahuilla, are still visible. One of the most distinctive features marking Lake Cahuilla's relic shorelines is a series of rock fish trap features that, in some cases, stretch across thousands of square meters. These fish traps are sever...
Article
Four recently identified sites from eastern Santa Rosa Island contain flaked-stone artifacts diagnostic of Paleocoastal occupations between ∼13,000 and 8000 calendar years ago. The largest site (CA-SRI-997/H) contains two discrete loci that have been the subject of recent testing and data recovery excavations reported elsewhere. Three smaller, near...
Article
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The Farallon Islands are a cluster of small islands ∼32 km off the coast of San Francisco Bay. These islands total < 1 km² in area and lack surface freshwater, but are home to scores of breeding seabirds and seals and sea lions. At least three archaeological projects have been conducted on Southeast Farallon, focusing on the islands’ two known arch...
Article
As applications for offshore renewable energy projects increase, state and federal land managers have become concerned over potential impacts to cultural heritage resources along submerged landscapes. Identification, documentation, and management of historical shipwrecks have been relatively common, but methods for identifying submerged pre-contact...
Article
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• For over 10,000 years, black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii) were an important resource in southern California, first for coastal Native Americans, then beginning in the nineteenth century, as one of the state's first commercial shellfisheries. By 1993, after years of heavy fishing, rising sea surface temperatures (SST), and the spread of witherin...
Chapter
Spanish arrival to Alta and Baja California in AD 1542 marked the beginning of widespread ecological changes for California Island ecosystems. Over several centuries, Native peoples were removed to mainland towns and missions, intensive commercial fisheries and ranching operations developed, and numerous exotic plants and animals were introduced. T...
Article
In spite of their potential significance to early human migrants and maritime foragers, small islands often are overlooked in archaeological research projects in favor of mainland coastal and large island counterparts. One excellent example of this is found off the northwestern coast of Baja California, México. Despite the wealth of data from islan...
Poster
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Sea-level rise following the last glacial maximum (~20 kya) has resulted in the submergence of paleochannels, tar seeps, and archeological sites on continental shelves. The distribution of these sites is important for archeological research, offshore infrastructure development, and environmental hazard assessment. Modification of controlled source...
Article
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The geological community and the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) are moving ever closer to formalizing a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene. First proposed to raise awareness for planetary stewardship, the Anthropocene will likely be defined, according to the AWG, based on patterns of near-synchronous anthropogenic change that place its boundary...
Article
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Shortly after the California Gold Rush, the first commercial abalone fishery sprang to life along the central and southern Californian coast, an industry founded and developed by Chinese immigrants. By shipping dried black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii) to Chinese communities in the American West, and exporting the product to a ready market in Chin...
Article
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TODD BRAJE / 28 MAR 2018 At a sleepy outpost in the Sierra Nevada foothills in 1848, carpenter and sawmill operator James Marshall discovered several small gold flakes along the South Fork of the American River, sparking the California gold rush. Word of vast riches spread like wildfire and, seemingly overnight, San Francisco, a barren landscape of...
Article
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Santa Cruz Island contains a remarkable array of cultural and biological resources and a rich tradition of research across the social and biological sciences and humanities. Given dramatic changes in climate forecast in the coming decades of the Anthropocene, however, many questions remain about the sustainability and future of island ecosystems an...
Chapter
Archaeologists working on California’s Channel Islands and in other regions around the world have used measurements of whole shellfish from ancient site deposits to track mean size changes through time. Size fluctuations have been linked to a variety of natural and anthropogenic impacts and employed as baselines to evaluate the health and structure...
Article
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Recent archaeological fieldwork on the island of Simbo in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands has identified several new prehistoric sites. Here, we present the results of our research along with the first radiocarbon dates from Simbo. These dates and associated ceramic sherds provide a chronological and stylistic link to other islands with...
Article
Full-text available
Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the first commercial abalone fishery sprang to life along the shores of central and southern California, an industry founded and developed by pioneering Chinese immigrants. Archaeological survey and excavation projects along California’s offshore islands and historical records searches have uncovered details...
Article
Full-text available
In a controversial study published in Nature, Holen et al. (2017) claim that hominins fractured mastodon bones and teeth with stone cobbles in California ∼130,000 years ago. Their claim implies a human colonization of the New World more than 110,000 years earlier than the oldest widely accepted archaeological sites in the Americas. It is also at od...
Article
Maritime Heritage in Crisis: Indigenous landscapes and global ecological breakdown, by Richard M. Hutchings , 2017. New York (NY): Routledge; ISBN 978-1-62958-348-8 paperback $44.95; 144 pp., 34 b/w figs - Todd J. Braje
Article
Full-text available
In the face of environmental uncertainty due to anthropogenic climate change, islands are at the front lines of global change, threatened by sea level rise, habitat alteration, extinctions and declining biodiversity. Islands also stand at the forefront of scientific study for understanding the deep history of human ecodynamics and to build sustainab...
Article
Full-text available
In the face of environmental uncertainty due to anthropogenic climate change, islands are at the front lines of global change, threatened by sea level rise, habitat alteration, extinctions and declining biodiversity. Islands also stand at the forefront of scientific study for understanding the deep history of human ecodynamics and to build sustaina...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Methodological advances are reshaping our understanding of island colonization. Refinements in dating methods, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, and search techniques have resulted in discoveries that challenge outdated theories of islands as marginal to human migration, settlement, and subsistence. This is particularly true for research related...
Article
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The intensive commercial exploitation of California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) has become a complex, multimillion-dollar industry. The fishery is of concern because of high harvest levels and potential indirect impacts of sheephead removals on the structure and function of kelp forest ecosystems. California sheephead are proto-gynous hermaph...
Article
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Glassow's (2015) synthesis of "red abalone middens" on California's Santa Cruz Island does not include the broader geographic, chronologic, and ecological context to this phenomenon. We explore the wider distribution of these site types and emphasize their importance for addressing modern fisheries management issues. Spanish La síntesis de Glassow...
Article
Glassow’s (2015) synthesis of “red abalone middens” on California’s Santa Cruz Island does not include the broader geographic, chronologic, and ecological context to this phenomenon. We explore the wider distribution of these site types and emphasize their importance for addressing modern fisheries management issues.
Article
Full-text available
Investigations of human impacts on intertidal shellfish communities has become an important area of inquiry for archaeologists working in coastal regions around the globe. A recent study by Thakar et al. (2015) addresses this research agenda, but fails to recognize and accurately characterize earlier studies designed to investigate regional and dee...
Article
I thank all the authors for their thoughtful responses to my paper. I believe they effectively highlight some of the diverse opinions about the concept of the Anthropocene and underscore the challenges faced by the ICS subcommission.
Article
The concept of the Anthropocene has become increasingly prominent in recent years, but is it best defined as a geological period or as part of a longer-term pattern of human actions? And when did it begin? Todd Braje launches this Debate feature by arguing for a shift away from definitions and toward an emphasis on the human causes and consequences...
Book
Full-text available
In the 1800s, when California was captivated by gold fever, a small group of Chinese immigrants recognized the fortune to be made from the untapped resources along the state’s coast, particularly from harvesting the black abalone of southern and Baja California. These immigrants, with skills from humble beginnings in a traditional Chinese fishing p...
Article
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In this report, we discuss the results of a 2009 investigation of a Paleocoastal shell midden (CA-SMI-693) on western San Miguel Island, an 8,800-year-old site identified within the Point Bennett pinniped rookery. Analyses of faunal remains at this site suggest that the local biogeography was significantly different than today. We discuss the resul...
Article
Full-text available
California's Northern Channel Islands have long been an epicenter of specialized fishing economies dating from 13,000 yr ago to the mid-19th century. With thousands of well-preserved shell middens, some dominated by single shellfish species and little to no material culture, it can be difficult to distinguish between specialized prehistoric and his...
Article
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Abstract A proposal to designate a new geological epoch of our own making— the Anthropocene—is being considered by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), part of the International Union of Geological Sciences. Based on a set of formal criteria, there is growing consensus for a Holocene–Anthropocene boundary set at some point in the las...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying appropriate ecological conditions for population restoration is important for endangered species such as black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii) in California, but limited information exists regarding restoration locations.Using a combination of ancient and historical archaeological data and modern commercial fishing records, four optimal...
Article
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Examining the ecology and archaeology of black turban snails (Chlorostoma [Tegula] funebralis), found along North America's Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Baja California, we present evidence for 12,000 years of human predation in Northern Channel Island shell middens. Often viewed as evidence for Late Holocene economic intensification alon...
Article
In the mid-nineteenth century, Chinese immigrants to Gold Rush California built the first commercial abalone fishery along North America's west coast. Their efforts to establish an abalone meat and shell industry have been relegated to a footnote in Californian history, with only occasional newspaper accounts and other historical documents as the p...
Article
Based primarily on genetic data, it has been proposed that Homo sapiens followed a coastal ‘Southern Dispersal Route’ from Africa to Island Southeast Asia and Australia between ∼100,000 and 50,000 years ago. Geographic Information System (GIS)-based modelling has suggested that humans followed coastlines and rivers through the region, with the larg...