Classifying Soapstone Cooking Pots in the Santa Barbara Channel Region

Author(s): Kaitlin Brown

Year: 2016


The Chumash manufactured cooking vessels using soapstone from Southern California quarries for thousands of years, especially between A.D. 1500 and 1804. These vessels have been recovered in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging fin form small cups to large ollas with small orifices that stand over two feet tall. Hundreds of Chumash soapstone cooking vessels were collected by early antiquarians in California and are curated in museums throughout North America with little information regarding their provenience. Since the majority of the vessels were recovered from multicomponent sites occupied pre- and post-European contact, the biggest challenge for archaeologists has been determining when the vessels were intensively used. It is still unclear whether they were rigorously manufactured pre-contact (before 1542), during the first phase of contact by Spanish explorers (1542-1782), or almost exclusively during the later mission period (1782-1834). Using a formal typology, these vessels will be seriated to identify their temporal relationship. Radiocarbon dating will be used to provide context, and data drawn from this analysis will be used to look at change and continuity through time and across space.

Cite this Record

Classifying Soapstone Cooking Pots in the Santa Barbara Channel Region. Kaitlin Brown. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404985)

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Spatial Coverage

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