Adrian Praetzellis: “Archaeology of the Despised”

Although racism and poverty were accepted parts of life in 19th century California, archaeology shows that human tenacity and the ability to adapt were alive and well. African American railway porters in post-bellum Oakland, Sacramento’s Gold Rush era Chinese merchants, and Polish Jews living in San Francisco were as culturally different as can be. And yet their varied responses to adversity—as preserved in their artifacts and history—show the common resolve to live in dignity that is part of our shared humanity. Continue reading

Tom King: “Fiction as an Archaeological Research Tool”

If an archaeologist writes fiction about the subject of his or her research, can this serve a useful purpose, or does it taint the objectivity of the archaeologist’s conclusions? This is a question that Tom King faced when he elected to write two novels about the hypothetical fate of pioneer aviators Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Nikumaroro, in the Phoenix Islands. To King, imagining how the data he and his colleagues were finding might reflect what had happened to Earhart and Noonan was a way to make sense of them. To others, doing so was fatal to King’s claim to be conducting scholarly research.

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Charr Simpson-Smith will receive “The Golden Shovel Award” at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for California Archaeology

The Golden Shovel Award is a special presidential commendation given to longstanding members of the Society who have made significant contributions to California Archaeology through continued efforts in the field and/or laboratory.

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Diane Gifford-Gonzalez: “Tales (and Tails) from the Bolcoff Adobe: A Zooarchaeological Analysis of Recently Excavated Fauna”

The Bolcoff Adobe is the oldest standing structure at Wilder Ranch State Park. The floor of the Bolcoff Adobe was excavated in an effort to reach the underlying, precolonial indigenous archaeological deposits. Excavators deemed this effort to have been largely unsuccessful, but zooarchaeological analysis shows that some precolonial archaeological remains were recovered.

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Jason Field: “The Doghole Ports of Big Sur: Using History and Archaeology to Explore a Frontier Maritime Cultural Landscape”

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, industrial companies entered the rugged frontier mountains of Big Sur and the greater pacific coast in search of lumber, limestone, and other extractable resources. Reliable overland road networks and railroads were nearly nonexistent in these extreme coastal frontiers. The only economically efficient method for importing and exporting machinery or extracted resources was to use schooners and the ocean as a transportation corridor. The doghole port become the vital link between the resource extraction zones, the ocean highway, and the city markets. These constructions consist of conveyance structures, most often a wooden chute or wire cable, which delivered or received cargo from ocean vessels. Using a maritime cultural landscape perspective, this study explores the history and archaeology of doghole ports to expand understandings of settlement and industry in Big Sur. Continue reading

Ryan Brady and Sarah Brewer: “Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology in the City of Santa Cruz: Implications for Past Occupation and Land Use – When and Why?”

Dudek recently completed a cultural resources sensitivity study for the City of Santa Cruz. In addition to compiling information for all archaeological reports and recorded sites within the City limits, we developed a sensitivity model for predicting the locations of past activities. The sensitivity model considered variables such as distance to water, slope, and soil type and provided some surprising results when compared with the existing record. This study has implications for understanding prehistoric and historic land use in the Santa Cruz area and can also be used to interpret or predict more regional trends along California’s Central Coast. Continue reading

John Foster: “Archaeology Underwater: Exploration and Conservation Beyond the Shores of Time”

Foster will present a broad overview of underwater archaeology in California and beyond. Using such examples as Manila galleons, Spanish frigates, Steel-hulled passenger steamers, and WWII tankers, he will describe how archaeology is done in the underwater environment and why it’s important to understand and conserve maritime cultural resources. Underwater sites can produce amazing preservation conditions and important heritage information. It’s been said that the aqueous environment contains the greatest repository of human cultural heritage on earth. New technological advances are making these sites accessible, so what will be the future of the underwater past?

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SCAS’s 2nd Annual Film Fest: “Cache from the Island of the Blue Dolphins” and “The Impact of the Frolic”

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Juliana Quist: “CA-YOL-249: Initial Findings from an Early Middle Period Cemetery Site in the Sacramento Valley”

CA-YOL-249 offered a unique opportunity to investigate a previously unidentified, largely undisturbed, Early Middle Period cemetery site in the Sacramento region. Excavations by Archeo-Tec in 2016-2017 utilized modern field techniques and laboratory technologies to interpret the physical record. In advance of a formal project publication, this talk by Project Manager, Juliana Quist, will present an overview of the site using radiocarbon dating, lithic analysis, osteology, and comprehensive mortuary analysis, and this information will provide valuable contributions to the body of archaeological knowledge of the region.

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October is California Archaeology Month

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