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Santa Barbara Island: insights into the prehistory of California’s Channel Islands through its smallest island

Author(s): Jennifer Perry ; Michael Glassow ; Terry Joslin ; Kelly Minas ; Mark Neal

Year: 2017

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As the smallest of California’s Channel Islands, isolated and impoverished Santa Barbara Island has received less scholarly attention than its well-known neighbors. Initially described as a "way station" to the other islands, subsequent archaeological expeditions have reinforced the interpretation that the island was only temporarily occupied in the Middle and Late Holocene. In 2012, an effort to rerecord the 19 known sites was undertaken. Subsequent surveys have increased the number of sites to 55 and radiocarbon samples to 20, dating between ~4100 and 600 cal. B.P. Spatial and temporal patterns have emerged from this comparatively more robust data set, allowing for better contextualization of the few previously excavated sites. Most of the island’s sites are small shell and lithic scatters, although some are larger shell middens with greater faunal and artifact diversity. Their locations and constituents indicate that the island not only served as a stopover during inter-island travel, but was also visited to target local resources such as sea mammal rookeries. Our recent research presents a unique opportunity to reevaluate the different roles that this island played in broader settlement and subsistence systems on the Channel Islands in the latter part of the Holocene.

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Santa Barbara Island: insights into the prehistory of California’s Channel Islands through its smallest island. Jennifer Perry, Michael Glassow, Terry Joslin, Kelly Minas, Mark Neal. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428917)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16364

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America