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The Central Coast: A Midlatitude Milieu.

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... The Central Coast Sequence has been applied to the area between San Simeon and Point Conception and is broken into six periods with the following date ranges established in Jones et al. (2007): the Paleo-Indian (pre-8000 BCE), Millingstone (8000-3500 BCE); ...
... The Rossi square-stem is tan in color. This type is sequenced to the Early period (Jones and Waugh, 1995;Jones et al., 2007). The second projectile point is very black and looks similar to the Monterey chert cobbles found on the nearby beaches. ...
... Debitage was subdivided into percussion flakes, biface thinning flakes, or shatter. Debitage subdivisions were counted, weighed, and bagged together, according to material.GroundstoneThe method used for classifying the groundstone materials in the Cayucos Bench Collection was one borrowed from the work of multiple sources including, the extensive research of archaeologists PatriciaMikkelsen (1985; Basgall and Hildebrandt 1989: Appendix B) and Richard Fitzgerald(1993), as well as from the Jenny Adams (2014).Other authors such as Terry Jones and his contributors(Cook et al. 2017;Jones and Waugh 1995;Jones et al. 2007; Jones and Codding 2019;Jones et al. 2019;Webb and Jones 2018) ...
Thesis
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Located on the Central Coast, within the northern portion of Estero Bay, Cayucos remains an under-investigated area, and with over 8,000 years of human occupation there, it has the potential to inform about local and regional precontact history. Though relatively few archaeological investigations have occurred in Cayucos, by synthesizing studies in the area, a baseline of information emerges to build upon. This thesis reviews every recorded archaeological site with a precontact component, in the vicinity of Cayucos. These records, along with other relevant studies and theoretical framework, provide clues about the past associated with local settlement, technology, and the environment. Sources of information have been culled from site records and studies, authored by a variety of experts and non-experts including avocationalists, rock art scholars, residents, local CRM archaeologists, and others. One source of information comes from the orphaned Cayucos Bench Collection. Produced in the 1960s by the San Luis Obispo County Amateur Archaeologists, the collection is associated with 11 archaeological sites along the Estero Bluffs and includes site and artifact records, photographs, and a report. The collection is important because it represents the only artifact collection associated with the bluffs, a major portion of the research area. An aspect of this research includes comparative analysis of Cayucos with the Morro Bay Estuary, just south of Cayucos, in order to establish the relationship between these areas and identify regional patterns. The findings of this research begin to fill in the research gap remaining in the northern portion of Estero Bay.
... Dramatic shifts in settlement and subsistence occurred in the Late Millingstone (4950-3000 cal. b.p.) (also referred to as the Hunting Culture period by Jones, Stevens, et al. 2007) and Intermediate (3000-1000 cal. b.p.) periods. ...
... The early Millingstone occupation consisted of short-term campsites used by small groups of people who focused on the use of nearby estuary and terrestrial resources. Shellfish, elasmobranch (sharks and rays), and schooling fish, such as silversides, along with terrestrial mammals, were the mainstays of the diet (Jones, Stevens, et al. 2007;Mikkelsen et al. 2000:181). The late Millingstone period occupation, at Morro Bay estuary for example, witnessed an intensified use of the estuary and a more-permanent occupation (Mikkelsen et al. 2000:182). ...
... Shellfish remains included a diverse range of estuary species as well as taxa from sandy-beach habitats. Marine-mammal bone increased in frequency, along with a major increase in the abundance and diversity of fish, primarily from nearshore habitats (Jones, Stevens, et al. 2007). Sea-otter exploitation, for example, increased over time to 17 percent at SLO-2. ...
... Dramatic shifts in settlement and subsistence occurred in the Late Millingstone (4950-3000 cal. b.p.) (also referred to as the Hunting Culture period by Jones, Stevens, et al. 2007) and Intermediate (3000-1000 cal. b.p.) periods. ...
... The early Millingstone occupation consisted of short-term campsites used by small groups of people who focused on the use of nearby estuary and terrestrial resources. Shellfish, elasmobranch (sharks and rays), and schooling fish, such as silversides, along with terrestrial mammals, were the mainstays of the diet (Jones, Stevens, et al. 2007;Mikkelsen et al. 2000:181). The late Millingstone period occupation, at Morro Bay estuary for example, witnessed an intensified use of the estuary and a more-permanent occupation (Mikkelsen et al. 2000:182). ...
... Shellfish remains included a diverse range of estuary species as well as taxa from sandy-beach habitats. Marine-mammal bone increased in frequency, along with a major increase in the abundance and diversity of fish, primarily from nearshore habitats (Jones, Stevens, et al. 2007). Sea-otter exploitation, for example, increased over time to 17 percent at SLO-2. ...
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Project Location: The project area is located in the former Ballona Lagoon, a prehistoric wetland complex in west Los Angeles that is known collectively as the Ballona. This area is today bound roughly by Playa del Rey to the west, Marina del Rey to the north, the Ballona Escarpment (a high bluff ) and Del Rey Hills/Westchester Bluffs to the south, and Interstate 405 to the east. It is located approximately 0.5 km east of the Pacific Ocean, 1.3 km west of the Baldwin Hills, and 1.6–2.6 km north of Los Angeles International Airport. Ballona Creek, a drainage that is now channelized, crosses the project area; Centinela Creek, a spring-fed drainage, once ran along the southern portion of the project area along the base of the Ballona Escarpment. Project Description: Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI), conducted research, including data recovery, at five sites in the Ballona: CA-LAN-54/H, CA-LAN-62/H, CA-LAN-193/H, CA-LAN-211/H, and CA-LAN-2768/H. This involved the creation of research designs for the investigations, a paleoenvironmental study of the Ballona, and hand and mechanical excavation of the sites themselves. These five sites were recommended eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) (Altschul et al. 1991, 1998, 1999, 2003; Keller and Altschul 2002; Van Galder et al. 2006; Vargas and Altschul 2001; Vargas et al. 2005). A sixth site, CALAN- 2676, was recommended eligible and underwent data recovery but was found to have been redeposited. This volume provides an introduction to and background for the project; it includes an introduction to the Playa Vista Archaeological and Historical Project (PVAHP), an environmental setting for the Ballona and the Southern California Bight, an updated culture history for the southern California coast, a description and discussion of previous research in the Ballona, an updated research design for the PVAHP, and the results of our paleoenvironmental study of the Ballona Lagoon area’s evolution over the past 8,000 calendar years. Project Summary: This volume presents several important research findings on the paleoenvironment and prehistory of the Ballona. An updated culture history for the Southern California Bight allows a deeper understanding of regional trends over the past 10,000 years and how those trends compare to those in the Ballona. The updated research design offers new insight regarding the research topics and theories first proposed for the PVAHP and how they have evolved through time. Over the course of 20 years, research goals and objectives have changed to adapt to data recovery at NRHP-eligible sites, as well as to research trends and topics in California archaeology and in the discipline as a whole. The paleoenvironmental study was conducted as part of the PVAHP to provide insight regarding prehistoric use of the Ballona Lagoon over the past 10,000 years. It was designed to complement the archaeological excavations at sites in the PVAHP and aimed at providing a geoarchaeological context for interpreting the distribution of habitats and the evolution of landscapes used by ancient peoples who lived in the Ballona. Stratigraphic reconstruction of the Ballona Lagoon indicates a system that was probably in static equilibrium with sea-level rise after about 7000 b.p. and a lagoonal evolution driven primarily by sediment in-filling rather than by sea-level transgression or regression. Paleoenvironmental and archaeological data indicate that both biological productivity and human occupation in the Ballona reached a peak between about 3000 and 2000 b.p.
... At that time, Fitch (1972) showed the diversity of species exploited at one site along one stretch of exposed rocky shoreline (Diablo Canyon) in San Luis Obispo County. Since then, several hundred archaeological sites have been excavated along the central shores of California (see Jones et al., 2007), and while not all of these have produced fish remains, there exists an extensive, unsynthesized body of archaeological data on fish and fishing that represents virtually all major aquatic habitats in the region and nearly all culturallydefined intervals of time for the last 10,000 years. Gobalet and Jones (1995) summarized 78,730 fish remains from 51 of these sites, but the approach at that time was strictly atemporal; they summarized the range and diversity of fishes represented in different prehistoric habitats but with no consideration of variation through time. ...
... Findings from Elkhorn Slough are of somewhat limited value for diachronic comparison because no substantive components post-dating 950 cal BP have been identified there. Components in the sample also vary numerically across time in the region with a significant increase in the Early Period (n = 22) over the Millingstone/Lower Archaic Period (n = 11; Table 6; v 2 = 3.67, df = 1, p = 0.0555) which has been interpreted previously as evidence for a regional population increase at that time (cf Jones, 1992(cf Jones, , 1996Mikkelsen et al., 2000; see also Codding et al., 2012;Jones et al., 2007). ...
... The 5500 cal BP date has been previously associated with a major cultural transition along the central coast (Jones, 1992;Jones et al., 2007) when human settlements become more visible, numerous, and functionally diverse (Bertrando, 2006;Codding et al., 2012). Whether this reflects climatic amelioration at the end of early-mid Holocene warming (Mikkelsen et al., 2000), the appearance of new cultural groups (Moratto, 1984), a demographic threshold (Jones, 1996), or some combination thereof, remains unclear, but these changes can be accurately described as an interval of modest increase in fishing. ...
... In short, abalone middens are thought to have been deposited by residents of the interior who make forays to the coast to procure abalone for storage Haversat, 1992, 1994;Dietz and Jackson, 1981). Although archaeologists working on the central California coast have posited a variety of settlement systems, the following reconstruction, which highlights the prominent changes occurring between the Middle and Late periods (e.g., Jones and Ferneau, 2002;Jones et al., 2007;Jones and Schwitalla, 2008), represents the interpretive foundations for the Inlander Logistical Foray model of Late Period red abalone exploitation. ...
... By the start of the Late Period, coastal populations are believed to have shifted inland in a variety of settings along the central coast (Breschini and Haversat, 1991Dietz, 1991;Jones, 1992;Jones et al., 2007). For the Monterey Peninsula area, Jones and Ferneau (2002, p. 219) state that ''most Middle Period sites were abandoned before or during the Middle-Late Transition while many other sites were initially occupied during the Transition or Late Period.'' ...
... .'' At the same time that settlements decreased in size, populations were at the highest levels, social complexity is documented, and a number of costly resources were heavily exploited (Jones et al., 2007). These seemingly contradictory and unresolved aspects of this Late Period reconstruction along the central coast are well-recognized by Jones et al. (2007, pp. ...
... After Greenwood's (1972) initial work in the region, Jones (1993Jones ( , 2003 was the first to systematically integrate material cul ture sequences along the central California coast with the well established cultural chronologies of the San Francisco Bay and Sac ramento/San Joaquin Delta area in the north (e.g., Bennyhoff, 1978;Bennyhoff and Hughes, 1987;Lillard et al., 1939) and the Santa Barbara Channel to the south (e.g., King, 1982King, , 1990Rogers, 1929). Most recently, the central coast sequence has been defined by six distinct periods (Jones et al., 2007) While the Paleo-Indian Period is marked only by isolated fluted projectile points (e.g., Mills et al., 2005), large residential middens dating to all of the later periods are common throughout the region in varying densities (Jones et al., 2007). The earliest middens dating to the Millingstone Period frequently occur on the coast or show some connection with the coast (i.e., the presence of shellfish). ...
... After Greenwood's (1972) initial work in the region, Jones (1993Jones ( , 2003 was the first to systematically integrate material cul ture sequences along the central California coast with the well established cultural chronologies of the San Francisco Bay and Sac ramento/San Joaquin Delta area in the north (e.g., Bennyhoff, 1978;Bennyhoff and Hughes, 1987;Lillard et al., 1939) and the Santa Barbara Channel to the south (e.g., King, 1982King, , 1990Rogers, 1929). Most recently, the central coast sequence has been defined by six distinct periods (Jones et al., 2007) While the Paleo-Indian Period is marked only by isolated fluted projectile points (e.g., Mills et al., 2005), large residential middens dating to all of the later periods are common throughout the region in varying densities (Jones et al., 2007). The earliest middens dating to the Millingstone Period frequently occur on the coast or show some connection with the coast (i.e., the presence of shellfish). ...
... The earliest middens dating to the Millingstone Period frequently occur on the coast or show some connection with the coast (i.e., the presence of shellfish). While some sites show an emphasis on marine resources, others suggest an emphasis on terrestrial prey; when all the Millingstone assemblages in the region are examined together, subsistence ap pears diverse including shellfish, birds, mammals, fish, seeds and other plant resources (Jones et al., 2007(Jones et al., , 2008a. Milling equipment including slabs and hand stones are ubiquitous and pro jectile points occur less frequently than during later time periods. ...
Article
Three main hypotheses are commonly employed to explain diachronic variation in the relative abundance of remains of large terrestrial herbivores: (1) large prey populations decline as a function of anthropogenic overexploitation; (2) large prey tends to increase as a result of increasing social payoffs; and (3) proportions of large terrestrial prey are dependent on stochastic fluctuations in climate. This paper tests predictions derived from these three hypotheses through a zooarchaeological analysis of eleven temporal components from three sites on central California’s Pecho Coast. Specifically, we examine the trade-offs between hunting rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.) and deer (Odocoileus hemionus) using models derived from human behavioral ecology. The results show that foragers exploited a robust population of deer throughout most of the Holocene, only doing otherwise during periods associated with climatic trends unfavorable to larger herbivores. The most recent component (Late Prehistoric/Contact era) shows modest evidence of localized resource depression and perhaps greater social benefits from hunting larger prey; we suggest that these final changes resulted from the introduction of bow and arrow technology. Overall, results suggest that along central California’s Pecho Coast, density independent factors described as climatically-mediated prey choice best predict changes in the relative abundance of large terrestrial herbivores through the Holocene.
... Holdaway y Porch 1995 para ciclos fríos y secos registrados en el Pleistoceno final; Brooks 2006 para el caso de la aridez del Holoceno Medio; Jones et al. 2007y Sutton et al. 2007. Por todo esto no es sólo el tipo de respuesta humana, sino también su timing lo que puede enmascarar el efecto causal de un evento climático (e.g. ...
... Por todo esto no es sólo el tipo de respuesta humana, sino también su timing lo que puede enmascarar el efecto causal de un evento climático (e.g. Wendland y Bryson 1974;Jones et al. 2007;Riede 2009). ...
... ones (e.g., Breschini and Haversat 1991;Hylkema 2002;Jones et al. 2007). The SCR-9 archaeofaunal sample can address whether major shifts in prey choice or intensity of handling tactics track with the technological and mobility shifts that differentiate Sand Hill Bluff from Año Nuevo phases in the Santa Cruz Mountains. ...
... Prior work in California central coast archaeology has suggested that the transition between the Sand Hill Bluff and Año Nuevo phases was marked by decreases in the size of ranges that human groups occupied, and by a shift to more logistical foraging strategies (e.g., Breschini and Haversat 1991;Hylkema 2002;Jones et al. 2007). However, a rank-order comparison of mammalian taxonomic abundance in the Sand Hill Bluff and Año Nuevo components of SCR-9 shows no statistical or practical changes in prey choice between these two phases. ...
Article
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Excavations of the Bonny Boon site (CA-SCR-9) in the Santa Cruz Mountains of northern Santa Cruz County, California by Hylkema in the late 1980s recovered a large and well-preserved faunal assemblage that spans the Early- Middle Period transition. With over 8,000 recorded specimens (from an estimated 12,000 total number o f specimens [NSP]) and with demonstrated sampling to redundancy, the SCR-9 assemblage is one of the largest faunal samples in the region, and only the second published at this level of specificity. Analysis of the SCR-9 assemblage shows there were no changes in prey choice or handling in this part of the California central coast during the sites occupation, while the presence of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) suggests the site’s inhabitants were connected to fur seal hunting at Año Nuevo Point. Notably, there is evidence for intensive exploitation of cervid bone nutrients, a pattern that may be typical of inland sites in this region.
... In a systematic evaluation of subsurface data from 284 sites, including over 1200 radiocarbon determinations, Jones et al. (2007) corroborated signs of settlement change across the MCA. The period between A.D. 1000 and 1500 shows that more sites were occupied than during any other time in the region's prehistory, with a 100% increase over the previous half millennium (Fig. 2). ...
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Inspired by Stine's [1994. Extreme and persistent drought in California and Patagonia during Mediaeval Time. Nature 369, 546–549.] findings from Mono Lake and Graumlich's [1993. A 1000-year record of temperature and precipitation in the Sierra Nevada. Quaternary Research 39, 249–255.] tree-ring study from the southern Sierra Nevada, California archaeologists have for over a decade been investigating the possibility that prehistoric societies were noticeably impacted by severe droughts during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA; cal A.D. 800–1350). Decreased production at obsidian sources, dramatic increases in bead production, trade, and sociopolitical complexity in the Channel Islands, and subsistence changes on the central coast were among the trends attributed to drought-related demographic stress by researchers in the 1990s. Review of more recent archaeological research shows that as the search for signs of unusual cultural changes during the MCA has broadened, some of these early patterns (e.g. violence and health problems) have been found to be more complicated and regionally varied than previously thought while others (e.g., settlement disruption, deterioration of long distance trade, and population movements) have been further corroborated.
... cal A.D. 1000-1250). Obsidian is practically absent in Late and Contact period components Waugh, 1995, 1997;Jones, 2003;Jones et al., 2007). ...
Article
This paper traces and reviews the conduct of obsidian studies in California, with emphasis on the results of provenance studies and hydration dating over the past few decades. Review of substantive results reveals temporal and spatial change in the distribution of certain obsidians in different regions within the geopolitical boundaries of the state, as well as evidence for variation in source-use commensurate with different socio-ceremonial contexts in prehistory. Perspectives and lessons on obsidian use, derived from California studies, can be extended more generally to obsidian studies elsewhere in the world.
... The latter point has a much shorter and broader contracting stem than the former. Contracting stem points are ubiquitous in distribution and general age range along much of the California coast and there is currently no way to clearly separate the forms (Brill, 2014;Glassow, 1997;Jones and Hylkema, 1988;Jones et al., 2007;Justice, 2002;Stevens and Codding, 2009). Contracting stems were previously proposed as preceding leafshaped points (sensu Justice, 2002), but more recent work has shown that they both precede and cooccur in time with leaf-shaped varieties, as we see here in Pocket Field (Codding and Jones, 2007;Stevens and Codding, 2009 We have classified specimens I and K (Fig. 5) as Vandenberg Contracting Stem and Point Sal Barbed, respectively, but they might also be CIB points or preforms. ...
... • Zooarchaeological, Isotopic, and aDNA Findings Since 2003, (Jones et al. 2007), and we are currently directly dating several of the pinniped remains. Third, reanalyses have consistently distinguished more Callorhinus specimens than reported in the original analyses. ...
Article
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The research reported in this chapter has proceeded on the assumption that zooarchaeological, stable isotopic, and ancient DNA analyses can, in combination, elucidate the longer-term histories of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) in the North Pacific. After a decade of collaboration by investigators from several institutions and agencies, this expectation has proved to be justified. This chapter reviews current state of knowledge about the distribution of northern fur seal remains in the Greater Monterey Bay region, commenting on emerging geographic and temporal patterns. It then presents detailed data on the ecology of present-day northern fur seals and discusses possible differences in ecological parameters between the ancient California Callorhinus population and its contemporaneous cousins north of Oregon. It also considers how these factors, in concert with human predation, may have contributed to the Middle to Late Holocene demise of near-coastal rookeries in California. Finally, it outlines some ways in which collaborative approaches can shed light on emerging questions and problems in northern fur seal historical ecology.
... These early mainland sites suggest a broad-spectrum diet focused on shellfish and plant seeds, supplemented with rabbit, deer, and other resources from both the land and sea. Artifacts include eccentric crescents similar to those used during the Younger Dryas, as well as leaf-shaped projectile points, milling stones, and Olivella shell beads Glassow et al., 2007;Jones et al., 2007). ...
Article
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On the Pacific Coast of the United States and Baja California, the Younger Dryas was one component of dynamic Late Pleistocene and Holocene environmental changes. Changing climate, sea level rise, and shifting shorelines created ecological challenges for ancient coastal peoples and daunting challenges for archaeologists searching for early coastal sites. This paper reviews the evidence for ecological change in this ‘West Coast’ region, including shoreline changes that may have submerged or destroyed archaeological sites from this time period. Examining the regional record of human occupation dating to the Younger Dryas, well-dated coastal sites are limited to California’s Northern Channel Islands and Isla Cedros off Baja California. A small number of fluted points found in coastal areas may also date to the Younger Dryas, but their context and chronology is not well defined. Review of the implications of these two data sets considers whether the early but discontinuous Younger Dryas archaeological record from the West Coast might result from a migration of maritime peoples from Northeast Asia into the Americas.
... Along the central coast (between San Francisco Bay and Point Conception ) where sea otters have reestablished their populations, archaeological research was not suffi ciently advanced in the 1970s (with some key exceptions [e.g., Greenwood's 1972 study at Diablo Canyon]) to allow for anything other than informed speculation about the relationships between abalones, sea otters, and humans. In the last 2 to 3 de cades, however, hundreds of archaeological sites have been excavated in this region, including many that contain the remains of abalone and sea otters (for a history of this work see Jones et al. 2007). A regional culture history extending back to 8000 cal BC is now well established based on over 1000 radiocarbon dates. ...
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of longstanding speculation by fi shermen, biologists, and California Fish and Game repre-sentatives. Sea otters are a keystone predator in kelp forests along the central California coast, and they are voracious consumers of shellfi sh. Since their return from the brink of extinction early in the 20th century, their impact on shell-fi sh populations has been obvious, and the most robust populations of abalone are found only in areas where otters have not reestab-lished their populations. This pattern prompted the statement by the California Department of Fish and Game quoted above. Nonetheless, casual observations of the ar-chaeological record and ethnohistoric accounts T he southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is one of the mostly widely rec-ognized and highly cherished marine mam-mals on the coast of California. In seaside com-munities up and down the state, images of sea otters are ubiquitous on T-shirts, coff ee mugs, and bumper stickers. Tourists fl ock in droves to watch otters from cliff s and jetties, and to peer at them underwater at the Monterey Aquarium. Not surprisingly, scientifi c research on sea otters has been commensurate with this interest, and much is known about their basic biology, behavior, and ecol ogy. The prehistory of sea otters, however, is much less well understood and has been the subject 11
... Contracting-stemmed points on the other hand are the most ubiquitous type found in the region and are commonly recovered in large numbers from later (mid-Holocene) contexts. Recent cultural historical summaries (e.g., Jones 1993; Jones et al. 2007) have tended to dismiss the Diablo Canyon fi nds as intrusions from the upper site levels, but there is also a possibility, as Greenwood argued in 1972, that the specimens belong with the site's basal component and are part of terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene assemblages in this region (see also Bertrando 2004). Also overlooked at CA-SLO-2 are eccentric crescents several of which were recovered from the site's basal levels. ...
Article
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Situated within 25 km of each other on the central California coast, the Cross Creek (CA-SLO-1797) and Diablo Canyon (CA-SLO-2) sites produced basal components dating 6500-8300 cal B.C. making them two of the oldest human occupations on the California mainlnad. New findings from Diablo Canyon (radiocarbon determinations and faunal analyses are presented for the first time here, and the two sites are used in tandem to define a complex that represents the mid-latitude northeastern Pacific mainland 8500-10,300 years ago. The sites' faunal and artifact assembalges exhibit marked variation as Cross Creek produced a typical CaliforniaMillingstone inventory marked by high frequencies of handstones , milling slabs, core tools, (including choppers and core hammers), small edible seeds, yucca heart fragments, and remains of marine shellfish. Projectile points, bifaces, and bones from large animals were uncommon. Diablo Canyon showed lower frequencies of milling and core tools and greater representation of projectile points, bifaces, flake tools, and bones from small, medium and large animals, including deer and rabbits, marine birds, and fish. Much of this variation is related to the habitats in which the sites are situated as Cross Creek is located 9 km inlnad in a peri-coastal valley, and Diablo Canyon occurs on the open rocky shoreline. Together, the two components represent residentila bases within a semi-permanent settlement system. A combinastion of marine resource exploitation technologies (including watercraft), hunting wapons and milling equipment in concert with flora and faunal residues testify to a broad-spectrum adaptation with a distinctive marine component. This lifeway seems consistent with populations moving southward along the shore of the northeastern Pacific. While evidence for use of the California coast at this time depth is commonly lumpd under the rubric of the California Paleo-coadstal Tradition, the Cross Creek-Diablo Canyon complex is one of several distinctive regional complexes that illuminate variability in adaptations along the California coast at the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene boundary.
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Decades ago the Diablo Canyon site (CA-SLO-2) on the central California mainland revealed one of the oldest and longest sequences (ca. 9400 radiocarbon years ago to contact) of coastal occupation on the shore of the northeastern Pacific. The artifacts from these important deposits were reported in detail by Greenwood (1972), but only a fraction of the site's faunal collections was analyzed in the original site report. Acquisition of 30 additional radiocarbon dates and analysis of the complete vertebrate fauna have produced a coarse-grained record of human foraging on the California mainland from 8300 cal B.C. to cal A.D. 1769. The temporally controlled faunal matrix, constituting one of the largest trans-Holocene records from western North America, speaks in a meaningful way to two significant issues in hunter-gatherer prehistory: early Holocene foraging strategies and economic intensification/resource depression over time. The site's earliest component suggests a population invested in watercraft and intensely adapted to the interface of land and sea along the northeastern Pacific coastline. While boats were used to access offshore rocks, terrestrial mammals (e.g., black-tailed deer) were also of primary importance. Dominance of deer throughout the Diablo occupations is inconsistent with recent generalizations about big-game hunting as costly signaling in western North American prehistory. Diachronic variation, correlated with super-imposed burials that show growth in human populations through the Holocene, includes: (1) modest incremental changes in most taxa, suggesting resource stability and increasing diet breadth; (2) gradual but significant variation in a few taxa, including the flightless duck which was hunted into extinction and eventually replaced by sea otters; (3) punctuated, multidirectional change during the late Holocene related to historic contingencies of the Medieval Climatic Anomaly and protohistoric disruptions.
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As the focus of intense debate concerning the possible effects of environmental variability on Native populations, the Middle-Late Transition (MLT) is an exceptionally important period in California prehistory. Recent salvage excavations at the Coon Creek Site (CA-SLO-9) on the San Luis Obispo County coast revealed a single, highly discrete component dating cal A.D.900–1300 which is largely synchronous with most definitions of the MLT. With a recovery volume of 23.2 m3, this is the first component to yield artifact and faunal assemblages substantive enough to establish the culture historical markers for this period in this region, and to define corresponding subsistence and technological patterns. Artifacts from a proposed Coon Creek Phase show a blend of Middle and Late Period cultural traits (with a heavier contribution from the former) as well as some unique MLT diagnostics. Faunal remains suggest a landscape in which foragers exploited robust invertebrate populations, cormorants, sea otters, and rabbits, and “de-intensified” their fishing practices, all of which imply an organization of labor different from that of previous periods.
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There are regional differences in how archaeologists conduct their research on the Archaic period. The rich array of techniques and approaches used to examine this period in the West include human behavioral ecology and other evolutionary perspectives, technological style and aspects of practice theory, neuropsychological theory, and more. Recent research in the Great Basin, Southwest, Great Plains, Columbia-Fraser Plateau, and coastal California is surveyed to highlight commonalities and differences in the questions asked of the archaeological data and in the techniques that are used. KeywordsWestern North America-Archaic period-Hunters and gatherers-Early agriculture
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Along California's central coast, projectile points representing the central coast stemmed series were the dominant bifacial form for over 5000 years. Archaeologists working in the region are accustomed to referring to these arti-facts as "dart points" and to later small leaf-shaped points as "arrow points," even though these functional inferences remain untested. We use macro-morphometric and microscopic use-wear data to argue that both assumptions may be incorrect. We also suggest that the multifunctional nature of stemmed series points con-tributed to their longevity and conditioned the choice to replace them with more specialized forms. More broadly, we argue that functional analyses of stone tools greatly expand the potential information yield from this artifact class and increase its relevance to issues of foraging efficiency and technological evolution. Resumen Las puntas pedunculares de la costa central de California son la forma bifacial predominante en la zona por más de 5000 años. Los arqueólogos de la región se refieren a estos artefactos como "puntas de lanza" y a las peque-ñas puntas foliformes, que son mas tardías, las denominan como "puntas de flechas." Sin embargo, esta distinción no ha sido comprobada. A través de los datos macro-morfométricos y de rastros microscópicos de uso, proponemos que ambas afirmaciones pueden ser incorrectas. Además, sugerimos que el carácter multifuncional de las puntas pedunculadas ha contribuido a su duración e influyó en la decisión de no substituirlas por una forma especializada. Finalmente, sostenemos que los análisis funcionales de las herramientas de piedra son más adecuados para investigar la evolución tecnológica y la eficacia de forrajemiento prehistórico.
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Technical Report
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Olivella-shell grooved rectangular beads, or N series beads as classified by Bennyhoff and Hughes (1987), are the oldest Olivella wall beads in central California, dating to a narrow time-frame during the mid-Holocene. This bead type, thought to have originated in the southern Santa Barbara Channel islands, has been identified across a wide geographical area, including most of central and southern California and portions of Nevada and southeastern Oregon. Used by some to argue for a Middle Holocene Uto-Aztecan socioeconomic interaction sphere, we demonstrate that their broad geographical range is simply a barometer of the widespread transmission of cultural knowledge and the establishment of extensive trade networks circa 5,000 years ago. We also present new isotopic data that suggest that at least some of these beads were manufactured from shells obtained north of Point Conception, beyond the greater Santa Barbara Channel region.
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Thesis
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Starch granule analysis can offer direct evidence of the processing of dietary plants. However, definitively assigning archaeological starch granules to plant taxa is difficult in hunter-gatherer populations that rely on a broad spectrum of plant foods, especially in floristically diverse regions such as California. This study uses a statistical approach to establish diagnostic features of four taxa from the interior central coast of California that could be used to test for acorn intensification in this region. Three oaks selected for this study are Quercus agrifolia (coast live oak), Q. douglasii (blue oak), and Q. lobata (valley oak). One additional species, Elymus elymoides (squirreltail grass) was selected as a representative of the Triticeae tribe of grasses. Distinguishing these taxa will enable a future study of the residues of archaeological ground stone to establish diachronic changes in frequencies of the starch granules of these taxa to test for acorn intensification. Results of the analysis of the reference materials demonstrate statistically significant differences between the starch granules of the oaks and the grass studied. Preliminary analysis of three handstones recovered from Camp Roberts Military Training Facility, located in the interior central coast of Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties, California, confirms the presence of starch granules from both oaks and Triticeae grasses on some specimens. Therefore, future starch granule analysis of residues from additional ground stone specimens may procede to address the question of whether acorn intensification occurred at Camp Roberts, and if so, the timing of its occurrence. This in turn has implications concerning settlement and subsistence systems, including when intensification of stored resources was adopted.
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