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A PLACE OF SMALL CANOES: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION OF CAYUCOS, CALIFORNIA

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Abstract

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.
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