Ancestral Native American Archaeology of the San Francisco Bay Area

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

San Francisco Bay is the second largest estuarine system on the west coast of North America. The remarkable biotic diversity of the bay, with its surrounding valleys, uplands and vast tidal delta supported a great mosaic of individual tribal polities for several thousand years. During the Late Holocene, dramatic trends toward more complex forms of social organization, economic diversification and extensification is abundantly evident in the archaeology of the region. This symposium, composed of a wide-ranging collection of presentations, explores aspects of social complexity, subsistence pursuits and economic diversity within an area that was one of the great population centers of Tribal North America.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-15 of 15)

  • Documents (15)

  • Auditory Exostosis: A Marker of Occupational Stress in Pre-Contact Populations from the San Francisco Bay Region of California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sally Evans.

    The formation of auditory exostosis in prehistoric populations living along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay is due to participation in cold water subsistence behavior. Rates of auditory exostosis in populations from previously excavated archaeological sites located along the Bay Shore were compared with those located in the interior East Bay. A sample population of 1,291 individuals dating from the Early Period (3500 – 200 B.C.) to the Late Period (A.D. 1050 – 1769) was employed to address...

  • Diachronic Changes in the Shell Mounds of the San Francisco Bay: A Case Study of Ellis Landing (CA-CCO-295) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Edward Luby. Kent G. Lightfoot.

    The purpose of this paper is to examine diachronic changes in the long-term use of the Ellis Landing site (CA-CCO-295), a large shell mound on the San Francisco Bay whose chronology spans more than 3000 years. Originally excavated in 1906-1908 by Nels Nelson, recent investigations of museum materials housed in the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley are providing new insights into the harvesting practices, mortuary patterns, and community dynamics of the people who resided at Ellis...

  • Feeding the Ranks: correlating social organization and dietary patterns at the Yukisma Mound (CA-SCL-38) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Karen Gardner. Eric J. Bartelink. Antoinette Martinez. Alan Leventhal. Rosemary Cambra.

    The Yukisma Mound (CA-SCL-38), located in Santa Clara County, California, was used by the ancestral Ohlone as a mortuary site between approximately 940 and 230 years BP. Analysis of mortuary contexts within the mound revealed evidence of social differentiation in wealth, prestige, moiety affiliation and power. Special mortuary treatment, artifact abundance, and association with costly artifacts or culturally significant wealth items suggested that some individuals held higher status than...

  • Fins, Feathers and Furs: Fish, Bird, and Mammal Remains from a Stege Mound Complex Site, CA-CCO-297 (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dwight Simons. Tom Wake.

    During approximately the last thousand years people were at CA-CCO-297 focused upon taking small schools of fishes, aquatic and marine ducks and sea otters. These were obtained from estuarine habitats immediately adjacent to the site. Seasonality profiles for fish/bird/mammal species indicate procurement occurred throughout the year. Harvesting of these taxa was facilitated by the use of watercraft and nets and hunting tactics including mass collection, prey switching and coharvesting....

  • An Ideal Free Settlement Perspective on Residential Positioning in the San Francisco Bay Area (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adrian Whitaker. Brian Byrd.

    We present an Ideal Free Distribution Model to explore the successful establishment and spread of hunter-gatherer residential settlements around the perimeter of San Francisco Bay, California. Our objective is to illuminate underlying ecological and social factors that best explain the spatial distribution of occupation in the region. Our model determines relative habitat suitability based on a series of environmental factors including drainage catchment size, rainfall, terrestrial productivity,...

  • Kroeber’s omnivore’s dilemma: regional perspectives on late Holocene human paleodiets in the San Francisco Bay area (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric Bartelink. Jelmer Eerkens. Melanie Beasley. Karen Gardner.

    The analysis of ancient hunter-gatherer diet in the San Francisco Bay Area has been the subject of enormous research effort over the past century. Hundreds of "shell mounds" that once dotted the landscape around the bayshore provide evidence for significant population growth during the Late Holocene. Resource intensification models link population increase to a shift away from exploitation of low-cost, high-ranked prey toward greater use of high-cost, low-ranked prey at a number of...

  • A Land Transformed: Holocene Sea-Level Rise, Landscape Evolution, and Human Occupation in the San Francisco Bay Area (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Philip Kaijankoski. Jack Meyer.

    The effects of landscape evolution on the archaeological record of the San Francisco Bay Area have been profound, primarily due to rising sea levels. These changes are illustrated through a trans-Holocene "tour" of the bay that incorporates the landscape context of many sites featured in subsequent papers. For the regions first inhabitants this area was a vast inland valley, rather than the state’s largest estuary. The Holocene transgression is illustrated utilizing a new sea-level curve...

  • Late Holocene Resource Depression in San Francisco Bay: Recent Research with Tule Elk, Sturgeon, and Waterfowl (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jack Broughton.

    Prehistoric resource depression has been widely documented in many late Holocene contexts characterized by expanding human population densities and some of the most detailed records of this phenomenon have been derived from the San Francisco Bay area of California. I summarize here recent analyses focusing on tule elk, waterfowl, and sturgeon from multiple regional sites using traditional zooarchaeological measures of resource depression but also those drawing on allometric size relationships,...

  • Men at Work: Economic Complexity and Exploitation of Dietary Marine Protein Sources in the San Francisco Bay Area (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Melanie Beasley.

    In the San Francisco Bay Area, distinct dietary niches were exploited in prehistory, and these different food economies are most readily distinguished in terms of their primary protein sources. This paper highlights the use of external auditory exostoses (EAE), a pathology linked to the exploitation of marine resources in cold water, to evaluate varying economic complexity in acquisition of marine protein food sources between different sites around the Bay Area. The high occurrence of EAE in...

  • Reconstructing Mobility in the San Francisco Bay Area: Strontium and Oxygen Isotope Analysis at two California Late Period sites, CA-CCO-297 and CA-SCL-919 (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Laura Brink. Jelmer Eerkens. Alex DeGeorgey. Jeff Rosenthal.

    Stable isotope analysis can reconstruct individual mobility of prehistoric California on a scale that can distinguish movement between different parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. This study uses strontium and oxygen isotope analysis to compare individual mobility patterns of two Late Period sites, CA-CCO-297 and CA-SCL-919. Three life stages are used for comparison, including early childhood from first molars, early adolescence from third molars, and adulthood/time of death from bone....

  • Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay as Sacred Landscapes (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alan Leventhal. Rosemary Cambra.

    Prior to the time of European contact ancestral Ohlone tribal groups of the San Francisco Bay region buried their dead within many "shellmound" sites located near the bayshore. Archaeological inquiry over the past century has revealed that many of these burials had rich grave associations. Even so, the prevailing assumptions held by the scientific community has been that these bayshore mounds were the result from the refuse of habitation/village activities focused around the exploitation of...

  • Stable Isotope Perspectives on Diet and Mobility in the California Delta (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Susan Talcott. Jelmer Eerkens. Eric Bartelink. Ken Gobalet.

    Isotopic variation in individuals allows us to track differences in diet, mobility, and migration between various demographic categories including age, status, and sex. We use stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen to analyze diet and oxygen to examine human mobility from a range of sites in Yolo and Solano counties, with a focus on how marine vs. freshwater aquatic resources were exploited. Stable isotope results are compared to faunal remains from the same sites to establish baseline data for...

  • Tule Balsa Boats and the San Francisco Bay Economy. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Hylkema.

    Early historic accounts describe the use of tule balsa boats throughout the San Francisco Bay region. The advantages attendant to this technology, ranging from increased access to estuarine food resources and the transportation of materials and people over a large geographic area is as monumental as the many mounded sites that once surrounded the Bay Shoreline. This presentation will review descriptions of these boats and propose a possible connection between maritime travel, mounded sites and...

  • An Update of the Prehistoric Native American Fishery of San Francisco Bay (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kenneth Gobalet. Robert Leidy.

    It has been a decade since Gobalet et al. (2004: Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 133:801-833) summarized the fishes found in archaeological sites on San Francisco Bay. Numerous additional excavations have been completed in the last ten years and this report adds 32,000 bones to the totals from 23 archaeological sites from seven counties. By number of specimens found at the sites collectively, bat ray, sturgeons, herrings and sardines, northern anchovies, salmon and trout, New World silversides,...

  • Use of Faunal Resources as Trade Commodities During the Late Period - Evidence from a Stege Mound (CA-CCO-297) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alex DeGeorgey. Dwight Simons.

    Site CA-CCO-297 (a Stege Mound) is a prehistoric shell mound located on the northeastern margin of the San Francisco Bay. Recent archaeological investigations at CA-CCO-297 suggest that fish, water fowl and sea otters were exploited as commodities for exchange rather than purely subsistence items. Emphasized production of locally available resources for participation in inter-regional exchange systems appears linked to demographic pressures and reduced foraging efficiency. This paper explores...