Trade Routes and Contradictory Spheres of Influence: Movement of Rhyolite through the heart of the western Mojave Desert

Author(s): Ian Scharlotta

Year: 2015


Provenance analysis of obsidian and rhyolite artifacts from four Late Prehistoric sites located on the edges of the western Mojave Desert suggest direct procurement practices and the presence of a trade network through the Antelope Valley. Less clear is whether evidence for the movement of materials can effectively be used to infer particular cultural territories or specific cultural interactions. Ethnographic work in the Antelope Valley suggests that areas surrounding rhyolitic formations may have been controlled by different groups. The boundaries described by ethnographers may not have accurately reflected the prehistoric territories of groups in the area, as Mission contact likely altered regional populations prior to recording. Notes from early missionaries and explorers provide conflicting information regarding the location of villages, native groups, and associated territories within the Antelope Valley. Furthermore, reports suggest that enmity/amity relationships varied between regional groups over time, and that open conflict was occurring near Santa Clarita, California during the 1770’s, circumstances that likely inhibited trade networks between the western Mojave and coastal Chumash populations. The movement of lithic artifacts is examined in light of the different lines of evidence to infer modification of previous trade networks and territorial boundaries in the Antelope Valley.

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Trade Routes and Contradictory Spheres of Influence: Movement of Rhyolite through the heart of the western Mojave Desert. Ian Scharlotta. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397498)

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Spatial Coverage

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