Talking Heads of a forgotten Civilization

Author(s): James Van Dyke

Year: 2015


Abstract: The site is a local shell mound, south of San Francisco and just east of Brisbane in the shadow of an Ohlone sacred place, San Bruno Mountain. The original site was destroyed in 1947 during the building of Highway 101. But a hundred yards east and underwater 365 days a year, there exist another shell mound, which is exposed a few times a year during extreme minus tides. From the surface of this site, ninety percent of the lithic assemblage is covered with a fine micro art form! In the past, Bay Area shell mounds are well studied, however the literature does not describe any form of micro art. The repetitive subject matter of the art appears to be that of their celestial world. Many objects are anthropomorphic representing different head forms, which are in profile. Among different examples of the art, there are heads from which, form lines are emanating from their mouths, with characters in between, implying speech. One of the tools, a knife is also a solar shadow compass. With the advent of three-dimensional scanning and printing, several artifacts will be available for downloading and printing.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Talking Heads of a forgotten Civilization. James Van Dyke. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397385)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;