A Radiocarbon Chronology of Hunter-Gatherer Occupation from Bodega Bay, California, USA

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The evolution of hunter-gatherer maritime adaptations in western North America has been a prominent topic of discussion among archaeologists in recent years (e.g. Arnold 1992; Erlandson and Colten 1991; Erlandson and Glassow 1997; Lightfoot 1993). Although vast coastal regions of the northeastern Pacific (for example, southern California) have been investigated in detail, our understanding of hunter-gatherer developments along the coast of northern California is limited. Previous research indicates that humans have exploited marine mammals, fish and shellfish along the northern California shoreline since the early Holocene (Schwaderer 1992). By the end of the late Holocene, some groups remained year-round on ... continued below

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Kennedy, M A; Russell, A D & Guilderson, T P April 27, 2005.

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The evolution of hunter-gatherer maritime adaptations in western North America has been a prominent topic of discussion among archaeologists in recent years (e.g. Arnold 1992; Erlandson and Colten 1991; Erlandson and Glassow 1997; Lightfoot 1993). Although vast coastal regions of the northeastern Pacific (for example, southern California) have been investigated in detail, our understanding of hunter-gatherer developments along the coast of northern California is limited. Previous research indicates that humans have exploited marine mammals, fish and shellfish along the northern California shoreline since the early Holocene (Schwaderer 1992). By the end of the late Holocene, some groups remained year-round on the coast subsisting primarily on marine resources (e.g. Gould 1975; Hildebrandt and Levulett 2002). However, a paucity of well-dated cultural deposits has hindered our understanding of these developments, particularly during the early and middle Holocene. The lack of a long and reliable chronological sequence has restricted our interpretations of behavioral change, including the adaptive strategies (such as foraging, mobility and settlement) used by human foragers to colonize and inhabit the coastal areas of this region. These shortcomings have also hindered comparative interpretations with other coastal and inland regions in western North America. Here we present a Holocene radiocarbon chronology of hunter-gatherer occupation based on contemporaneous samples of charcoal and Mytilus californianus (California sea mussel) shell recovered from seven archaeological sites near Bodega Bay, California. A series of 127 {sup 14}C ages reveal a chronological sequence that spans from ca. 8940-110 cal BP (1{sigma}) (7890-160 {sup 14}C yr BP = charcoal; 8934-101 {sup 14}C yr BP = shell). As part of this sequence, we report new {sup 14}C dates from the stratified cave and open-air midden deposits at Duncan's Landing (CA-SON-348/H). In addition, we present {sup 14}C ages from three middle Holocene sites located in the Bodega Dunes, and from three late Holocene sites, including Kili (CASON-299), the oldest known village site in the region. Bodega Bay (38 degrees 19 minutes N, 123 degrees 03 minutes W) is situated about 90 km north of San Francisco Bay, California (Figure 1). The Pacific, in conjunction with prominent geomorphological features, has given rise to a series of coastal habitats (e.g. semi-protected and protected shorelines) around Bodega Bay that are rather unique for the unprotected, surf swept rocky shores of northern California. This stretch of coastline also lies within a zone of particularly strong seasonal upwelling between Point Reyes Peninsula and Cape Mendocino; a region characterized by high Ekman transport (Huyer 1983), and high coastal concentrations of the nutrients silica and phosphate (van Geen and Husby 1996). The interaction between land and sea results in a productive marine ecosystem that has attracted hunter-gatherers for much of the Holocene.

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PDF-file: 41 pages; size: 8.8 Mbytes

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  • Journal Name: Radiocarbon, vol. 47, no. 2, August 1, 2005, pp. 265-293; Journal Volume: 47; Journal Issue: 2

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JRNL-211869
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 936475
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc900309

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  • April 27, 2005

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 6:13 p.m.

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Kennedy, M A; Russell, A D & Guilderson, T P. A Radiocarbon Chronology of Hunter-Gatherer Occupation from Bodega Bay, California, USA, article, April 27, 2005; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc900309/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.