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Pre-Columbian Archaeology of North America Week 7: The Northwest Coast and California.

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Presentation on theme: "Pre-Columbian Archaeology of North America Week 7: The Northwest Coast and California."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pre-Columbian Archaeology of North America Week 7: The Northwest Coast and California

2 Regional Characteristics: The Northwest Coast –Narrow coastal band, including offshore islands, that stretches from southeastern Alaska to southern Oregon/northern California –Interior limit set by Canadian Rockies and Cascade Mountains –Marked by deep valleys running east-to-west creating in effect islands

3 Climate Mild temperatures and high rainfall –At lower elevations rainfall in excess of 1000 mm p.a. –At higher elevations, snowfall amounts average 4.1 m –At lower elevations average temperatures remain above zero Latitude/Longitude = 49.1 N; 123.06 W Avg. Annual Temperature (C) = 9.8 Annual Temp. Range (C) =16 Total Annual Precip. (mm) =1048 Summer Precip. (mm) = 277 Winter Precip. (mm) = 771

4 Flora –Temperate rainforest Coniferous trees –Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) –Redwood (Sequoia sempevirins) –Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) –Spruce –Yellow cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) Not a cedar but members of the False-cypress family –Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) –Hemlock (Tsuga sp.) A member of the pine family

5 Vegetational Zones of North America

6 Northwest Coast fauna (1) Herbivores –Moose (Alces alces) los –Elk (wapiti) (Cervus elaphus) jelen –White-tail (Virginia) deer (Odocoileus virginianus) –Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) –Rabbits/hares –Beaver (Castor canidensis) bobr kanadský


8 Northwest Coast Fauna (2) Carnivores –Bears Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) Brown bear (Ursus arctos) American black bear (Ursus americanus) baribal –Canines Wolf Coyote (Canis latrans) Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) –Felines Mountain lion (Puma concolor) Lynx (Lynx canadensis) –Mustelids Wolverine (Gulo gulo) rosomák Otter, marten, mink, weasel Sea otter –Raccoon (Procyon lotor) –Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)



11 Northwest Coast Fauna (3) Whales –Killer whale (Orcinus orca) –Gray whale Sea otters Salmon –Chum, pink, coho, chinook, sockeye

12 Northwest Coast (1) Research limited by impact of changing sea levels in the Holocene Sites prior to 5000 BP are mostly under water today –What is known is from upland locations on the Queen Charlotte Islands Northwestern Coastal culture technology is dominated by microblades and, on occasion, macroblades that are differentiated from microblades by widths of 10 mm or more. –These narrow flakes with prismatic and triangular crossections were struck from specially prepared cores. Sections of the resulting microblades would have been used as inserts to arm wooden or bone lances, knives, and other composite tools. –Microblade technology represents the most economic use of stone ever developed by stone age people. Ubiquitous cobble core and spall tools are also well represented.Microblade

13 Northwest Coast (2) By the time sea levels (5000 BP) stabilize a recognized cultural complex emerges that continues through to the modern period. A seasonal pattern of coastal winter settlement in the deltas of major rivers with summer interior extensions up the rivers to key salmon capturing and processing locations was evolving throughout the period up to 3000 BP and would eventually lead to permanent interior settlements.

14 Northwest Coast (3) 3 Social stratification with hereditary slavery and the importance of wealth have been identified as the most distinctive features of the culture area The Northwest Coast cultural pattern included hereditary social inequality, semi-sedentary settlement with permanent winter villages, and intensive production and storage of resources, especially salmon.villages Craft specialization, masks and ceremonialism, different labret types indicating social ranking, wood working, three-dimensional art

15 A Reconstruction of Microblade Production Using Specialized Cores Microblade The drawing illustrates a possible method of locking the microblade core between two pieces of wood preparatory to striking off the microblades. Methods of fitting the microblades into wooden handles to produce sharp edged knives are shown below.

16 Northwest Coast Village Village Although idealized, the artist's rendition of a village scene illustrates many of the major characteristics of Late West Coast culture. Large multi-family plank houses form a row facing the sea with shell middens being present behind and between houses. A successful raiding party has returned with prisoners as slaves, the heads of slain enemy retained as war trophies, and loot in the form of material goods. The leader of the war party is greeted by the village leaders who are in ceremonial garb. In the middle background an old woman dressed in a woven cedar bark tunic, cape, and hat watches the proceedings while in the far background two dugout canoes have bark mats thrown over them to prevent the canoes from drying out in the sun and cracking. The man in the left hand corner wears a woven spruce root potlatch hat with three rings on top indicating that the individual has validated his rights and privileges in three potlatch ceremonies.

17 California California –Roughly equivalent to modern state of California Eastern limit is the Sierra Nevada Mountains/Colorado River –Mediterranean climate Cool wet winters and warm dry summers –Broadleaf evergreen flora Live oak chaparral (mosaic of oak groves and grasslands) Sclerophyllous Woodland –Eight species of oak (Quercus sp.) Four deciduous and four evergreen High acorn production (200-400 kg/year)

18 Mild, moist winters, hot dry summers inland Cool, often foggy coasts High percentage of sunshine High summer diurnal temperature range Frost danger during winter



21 California Fauna Virtually all terrestrial species found in North America (except for species restricted to the arctic/sub-arctic) Importance of marine species –Shellfish Oysters (Ostreiddae) Clams Mussels Abalone (Haliotis) Sea urchin (Echinoidea) –Marine mammals Whales, porpoises, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions, seals

22 Shellfish

23 California History of archaeology in California is quite long and complex with a number of different paradigms having evolved over the past century –Central California Taxonomic System Very influential but now considered inaccurate Three major periods now recognized: –The Millingstone Horizon: 7000 - 4000 BP –The Middle Horizon: 4000 - 1500 BP –The Protohistoric Period: 1500 - 400 BP

24 Millingstone Horizon Abundance of milling stones (basin metate and mano) that appeared during this time.milling stones These were used to grind the small, hard seeds of grasses and sage, which formed a major part of the diet. Shellfish-gathering continued to supply most protein, and hunting and fishing were relatively unimportant. Pine forests were still extensive, reflecting cooler, wetter climate than today. Considerably more evidence exists for occupation during this period than the previous one. Some variation between northern and southern California

25 Middle Horizon (1) The Middle Horizon is a time of considerable culture- change in both the north and south, but the nature of this change is difficult to generalize about. The establishment of many new villages in new portions of the state suggests population dispersal, but the size and apparent organization of some Middle Horizon villages suggests nucleation. An expansion of trade is indicated by the widespread dispersal of obsidian from the various eastern and northern California sources, and of shell beads from the coast into the interior, but there is also evidence of considerable specificity in the adaptation of local populations to local environments. Mortuary populations show evidence of both widespread violence and complex political organization.

26 Middle Horizon (2) To place these apparent changes in an interpretive framework, we can propose that the Middle Horizon represents a period when maritime/littoral adaptation along the California coast permitted and impelled a large-scale population increase in sedentary coastal villages, culminating in periodic population pushes into the interior. Populations moving into the new environments would have been under pressure to experiment with methods of readaptation, to interact with other groups, and to maintain trade and other ties with the coastal villages. This process, described in detail [in the model of increasing cultural complexity, above] may be responsible for the Middle Horizon as we know it. Mortar and pestle replace millingstonesMortar and pestle Diverse stone tool typologies, emphasis on larger points, probably dart pointslarger points

27 The Protohistoric Period During the protohistoric period in northern and southern California, there is evidence for rapid socio-economic change. –High levels of linguistic diversitylinguistic diversity –Micro-political units (triblet) The clam disc bead economy appears, and clam discs are adopted as currency across broad parts of the north, while in the south a proliferation of Olivella money beads occurs.beads There are suggestions of shifts in coast-interior trade patterns; for example, the use of obsidian from the east of the Sierra Nevada drops sharply in the Chumash area after the Middle Horizon.obsidian Shift toward smaller points, reflecting use of fore-shaft technologysmaller points Full emergence of basketry –Twined and coiled basketryTwined and coiled basketry Rise of coiled basketry is associated with a predominance of bone awlsbone awls

28 Millingstone Large, shallow basin metates and handstones (manos) were the common form of millingstone common in the Chumash area until They were used to grind small wild seeds for food.

29 Mortars Mortars + Cooking vessels Mortars Mortar and pestle made from sandstone were used for grinding and processing acorns or seeds. The Indians on Santa Catalina Island carved these stone pots from steatite, a soft, easily worked soapstone which they quarried on the island. These heat resistant cooking vessels were traded to the Chumash of the Northern Channel Islands and to people on the mainland coast, in exchange for local resouces.

30 Middle Horizon Middle Horizon Projectile Points (Large) Middle Horizon Large Projectile Points from CA-FRE-115. Specimen: A-D: concave base, deep; E-F: concave base, shallow (entire); G- H: concave base, shallow (partial); I-L: concave base, side-notched; M: concave base, corner- notched; N-P: straight or convex base, corner- notched; Q-S: convex base, side notched; T: convex base, unnotched.

31 Protohistoric Protohistoric Projectile Points (Small) Protohistoric Small Projectile Points from CA-FRE- 115. Specimen: A-E: concave base, side- notched; F-J: concave base; K-O: straight base; P-T: straight or concave base, corner notched; U-Y: concave base, corner-notched.

32 Shell beads Shell beads (Olivella sp.) Shell beads

33 Basketry Coiled basketry technique –trays, bowls of all sizes, treasure baskets and hats Twined basketry technqiue –leaching basins, sieves, fish traps, cradles, and water bottles

34 Bone awls Usually made from the cannon bone of Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) a, Pomo; b, Maidu; c,d,e, Yokuts; f, Yuki; g,h, Miwok."






40 Major sources of obsidian Major sources of obsidian

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