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2011 Abstracts

Pacific Coast Historical Society Monthly Lecture Meeting (Irvine, California; November 2011)

Twenty Years of Research along the West Los Angeles Coast

Donn R. Grenda

Over 20 years if archaeological, geoarchaeological, ethnohistorical, and historical research by Statistical Research, Inc (SRI) along the west Los Angeles coast has produced a rich and detailed record of approximately 8,000 years of human adaptation to a dynamic coastal wetland and a diverse cultural environment. This record provides a unique perspective on Gabrielino/Tongva culture from its ancestral origins in the Millingstone period, to its development as a distinctive coastal culture in the Intermediate period, and finally its emergence as a complex culture during the Protohistoric and Mission periods. In addition to information on the Gabrielino/Tongva culture, our historical research also uncovered interesting stories concerning the more recent development of the region. Major landscape-altering impacts were caused by ranchos and hog farms, the Los Angeles sewer system, the oil industry, the Howard Hughes Industrial Complex, residential expansion, and the long, on-going battle to control storm water.

For more of this abstract, click here.

2011 American Society of Ethnohistory Meeting (Pasadena, California; October 2011)

The Ethnohistory and Archaeology of the Gabrielino/Tongva during the Mission period: A Perspective from the Ballona Lagoon Area, West Los Angeles

John Douglass and Steven Hackel (UC Riverside)

The early historical period in the Los Angeles Basin was a time of tremendous change for native Californians. New colonial institutions, including missions, pueblos, and ranchos, intruded onto traditional native areas. Native groups like the Gabrielino/Tongva of the Los Angeles Basin responded to these intrusions in a variety of fashions, including becoming incorporated into these new, introduced economies and religious institutions. Our paper discusses these interactions, focusing in part on archaeological data and Mission records associated with the Ballona area, located in west Los Angeles.

76th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology Meeting  (Sacramento, California; April 2011)

Soil quality of ancient terraced agricultural fields of Chihuahua, Mexico

Jeffrey Homburg, Jonathan Sandor, and Paul Minnis

Agricultural soil quality of ancient field systems was investigated as part of an interdisciplinary study of the anthropogenic ecology of Medio period (~A.D. 1200-1450) fields near Casas Grande. We compared the soil quality of fields in high versus low population valleys and between fields thought to have been owned by chiefs. A number of statistical differences were identified, but there is no indication that agriculture reduced soil quality, so soil degradation does not explain the ultimate decline of the Casas Grande cultural system. Soil differences, however, were found between fields, likely due to geologic differences in the parent material.

Agricultural Soils of the Prehistoric Southwest: Known Unknowns

Jonathan Sandor and Jeffrey Homburg

Soils form the foundation of agriculture, including the diverse farming systems of the prehistoric Southwest. Yet many questions about them remain unanswered. Were certain natural soils sought out, and if so, why? How were soils and landscapes deliberately altered and managed for agriculture? Can prehistoric soil productivity be estimated? How did prehistoric farming impact soil resources? Although headway has been made in addressing these questions, there is much more to learn. Quantitative studies and advancements needed on a host of soils-related questions about Southwest prehistoric agriculture, and their relevance to current arid land agriculture, are presented to spur further work.

Symposium "Prehistoric occupation in the Ballona Lagoon, west Los Angeles"

Organized by Seetha N. Reddy and John G. Douglass

This session presents the results of a long-term research program on prehistoric occupation of the Ballona Lagoon area of what is now west Los Angeles. We will detail human behavioral responses to a changing physical and cultural world over 8,000 years of native occupation. Responses to environmental and cultural changes in the Los Angeles Basin involved continuation of traditional practices as well as the development of new traditions. Papers in this session will use geoarchaeological, archaeological, ethnohistoric, and historic data from archaeological sites and archival records to address how Native Californian behavioral responses were culturally constructed. This session will focus on perceptions of cultural continuity and ethnogenesis as expressed through material culture in the Ballona.

Long Term Research in the Ballona Wetlands of west Los Angeles, California

Jeffrey H. Altschul, Richard Ciolek-Torrello, and Donn R. Grenda


Since 1989, the historic Ballona Lagoon in and around Marina del Rey, California has been the focus of intense archaeological, paleoenvironmental, ethnohistorical, and historical research. Various compliance-driven projects, the largest and most complex of which is a mixed residential and commercial development have been performed under a research design umbrella that focused on human adaptation to a dynamic coastal wetland environment. This paper outlines the research design and highlights the salient results of the project.

Paleoenvironmental and Landscape Reconstruction of the Ballona in West Los Angeles

Diane L. Douglas and Jeffrey A. Homburg


Long term research in the Ballona has provided the opportunity to reconstruct paleoenvironmental and landscape change in these coastal wetlands in west Los Angeles spanning the last 7,500 years. This research is based on analysis of the stratigraphy, radiocarbon dates, and paleoecological indicators (foraminifera, ostracodes, mollusks, diatoms, silicoflagellates, and pollen) of several core samples. Results indicate that sea level rise caused the Ballona to shift from a bay at the mouth of the Los Angeles River to a lagoon by about 6600 B.P. As the Ballona Lagoon filled with sediment, the ecological landscape also changed, providing a variety of resources for human exploitation through the middle- and late-Holocene.

Changing Patterns of Settlement and Site Structure in the Ballona Area, west Los Angeles

Donn R. Grenda, John G. Douglass, and Richard Ciolek-Torrello


Since the 1920s, avocational and professional archaeologists have documented archaeological sites of the Ballona area, both adjacent to the former wetland and on the bluffs overlooking them. This paper discusses historical perspectives on Ballona settlement and site structure, as well as current interpretations based on extensive archaeological investigations of numerous sites in the area. Although some settlement patterns may reflect the ebb and flow of the evolving Ballona Lagoon and climatic changes, other patterns strongly suggest cultural interaction and persistence of place.

A Balanced Diet: Subsistence Practices in the Ballona, Coastal Southern California

Sarah Van Galder, Seetha N. Reddy, Justin Lev-Tov and Richard Ciolek-Torrello


Subsistence strategies of the prehistoric populations occupying the Ballona wetlands in west Los Angeles over the past 8,000 years have been characterized by general continuity with punctuated change. In this talk, we will discuss the major trends and significant changes in subsistence, while comparing our results to the wider context of adaptive strategies in coastal southern California. Specifically we will address maritime versus lacustrine adaptations, resource intensification and ethnogenesis in food consumption. The talk will identify trends across the entire sequence of human occupation in the Ballona, as well as highlight emerging insights into food consumption during the Mission period.

Knapping through time along the coast: Lithic Technologies in the Ballona, West Los Angeles

Scott Kremkau, Seetha N. Reddy and Kathleen L. Hull


The Ballona Lagoon in west Los Angeles encompasses over 8,000 years of human occupation. Lithic collections, including more than 50,000 analyzed for this talk, are composed of primarily subsistence-related tool kits, in addition to a large, unique collection of ritual artifacts. This talk will present major technological changes in lithic artifacts over time in the Ballona, and their implications for food procurement and preparation, trade and interaction. Some of the topics discussed include role of milling equipment, introduction of the bow and arrow, variability in projectile points, site function, and food preparation and disposal behavior associated with feasting.

From Land to Sea: The Worked Shell and Bone Collections from the Ballona, West Los Angeles, California

Amanda Cannon and Janet Griffitts


More than 100,000 pieces of worked shell and bone recovered from ritual and domestic contexts from sites in the Ballona wetlands in west Los Angeles. The diverse collections of locally available and exotic faunal worked materials attest to use of rich terrestrial, marine, and wetland resources, as well as trade interactions with neighboring groups in southern California and afar. The spatial and temporal distributions of these worked tools and other utilitarian and domestic items provide unprecedented insight into cultural continuity and change in the last 8000 years.

The Post-Conquest Origins of Pottery among the Tongva-Gabrielino: Indigenous Brown Wares from the Ballona

Christopher P. Garraty


This paper focuses on the circumstances under which the Tongva-Gabrielino adopted practical pottery technology during the Mission period. Roughly 110 undecorated indigenous-style ceramic sherds were recovered from a Protohistoric-Mission period living surface in the Ballona, most of which are small fragments from undecorated brown or gray vessels likely used for cooking. Some inhabitants of the Ballona appear to have been incorporated into nearby missions and the Pueblo of Los Angeles. Thus, it is crucial to consider the extent to which this investment in pottery technology was attributable to Hispanic influences versus indigenous responses to changing social and economic conditions.

Public Feasting and Mourning during the Mission Period in the Ballona, West Los Angeles

Seetha N. Reddy, John G. Douglass and Donn R. Grenda


Feasting and mourning contexts offer unique insights into the cultural perceptions of the relationship between food, material culture and ideology. Recent excavations in the Ballona Lagoon area in west Los Angeles have provided an extraordinary opportunity to study these relationships during the Mission period. Dense deposits of fauna and floral remains, along with other material culture, are interpreted as the remnants of community feasting most likely related to the annual Gabrielino/Tongva mourning ceremony. Our findings from this research paving the path to address the elusive research themes of ritualization of foods and materials, and cultural preferences among complex hunter-gatherer populations.

Early Historical Period Gabrielino/Tongva-Hispanic Interaction in the Los Angeles Basin

John G. Douglass, Steven W. Hackel, Anne Q. Stoll and Richard Ciolek-Torrello


The early historical period in the Los Angeles Basin was a challenging time for Native Californians. New Hispanic institutions, including missions, pueblos, and ranchos, intruded onto traditional Native lifeways. Native groups like the Gabrielino/Tongva responded to these Hispanic intrusions in a variety of fashions, including becoming incorporated into these new, introduced economies and religious institutions. Our paper discusses these interactions, focusing in part on archaeological data and Mission records associated with the Ballona area, located in west Los Angeles. By doing so, we offer unique clues into these interactions and economic and religious relationships.

Contributions of Ballona Research to Gabrielino/Tongva Prehistory and Ethnohistory

Richard Ciolek-Torrello, Seetha N. Reddy, John G. Douglass and Donn R. Grenda


Over 20 years of archaeological, geoarchaeological, and ethnohistorical research by Statistical Research, Inc in the Ballona region of west Los Angeles has produced a rich and detailed record of over 8,000 years of human adaptation to a dynamic coastal wetland and a diverse cultural environment. This record provides a unique perspective on Gabrielino/Tongva culture from its ancestral origins in the Millingstone period, to its development as a distinctive coastal culture in the Intermediate period, and finally its emergence as a complex culture during the Protohistoric and Mission periods. We discuss these developments using the concepts of cultural continuity and ethnogenesis.

Symposium "American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA)–Funded Projects through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), St. Louis District (SLD): Opportunities, Innovations, Challenges, and Results, Part 1"

Organized by John D. Hall

In 2009–2010, the USACE, SLD awarded 25 million dollars in ARRA contracts under 40 individual delivery orders to Statistical Research, Inc., John Milner Associates, Inc., and Brockington and Associates, Inc. for three projects assisting districts nationwide to complete often-neglected mandated tasks on USACE-owned or –administered properties: National Historic Preservation Act Section 110 planning surveys and other projects; the pilot Veterans Curation Project, and supplemental NAGPRA compliance funding. This session provides a variety of management and research perspectives on the work, which can be characterized both by the opportunities and challenges it presented and the planning innovations that resulted.

Between Hohokam and Salado: View-shed Analysis of a Fortified Hilltop Site along the Upper Queen Creek Drainage

John D. Hall, Michael P. Heilen, Robert M. Wegener, and Christopher P. Garraty


As part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) ARRA funded project, Statistical Research, Inc. intensively surveyed USACE fee-title lands in the Whitlow Ranch Flood Control Basin, along Queen Creek and near Queen Valley, Arizona. A previously documented and extensive early-Classic period hilltop site complex (AZ U:11:29 [ASM]) was re-recorded. Viewshed analysis was conducted to evaluate visibility of arable land and other contemporaneous sites along Queen Creek. Analysis results reveal the importance of agricultural land, cultural affiliation, intersite communication, and the potential establishment of an early-Classic period defensive network of fortified hilltop sites along upper Queen Creek.

Managing USACE, SLD ARRA-Funded Projects: Challenge and Response

Teresita Majewski, Robert A. Heckman, Joseph F. Balicki, and Thomas G. Whitley


ARRA work through the USACE, SLD consisted of 40 individual delivery orders completed within less than 18 months. The work provided the government’s three prime contractors with opportunities to gain new experience and build relationships with every USACE district in the continental United States. In addition to archaeological survey and site evaluations, contractors and their small business team members completed geoarchaeological and condition assessments, National Register nominations, GIS analysis and modeling, curation, and other tasks. Accelerated timelines for project completion spurred development of innovative fieldwork and management strategies to meet the government’s requirements for high-quality archaeological work and contractual accountability.

Reporting Hydrological Histories for Archaeological Resources: The Inundation Assessment Tool

Phillip O. Leckman and Nicholas Reseburg


Archaeological sites located along lakes and reservoirs experience unique adverse effects due to wave action, inundation and other hydrologic events and resource managers must deal with these very real impacts to cultural resources. During recent NHPA Section 110 compliance surveys for the Corps of Engineers, SRI developed a tool to help provide resource managers with baseline data for these effects. This database-driven tool provides a detailed inundation report for recorded sites around the reservoir including inundation episode duration in days, number of episodes, and more by using historic pool elevation data and comparing it to recorded site elevations.

The Alamo Dam Area: A Lithic Procurement Landscape in West Central Arizona

Karry L. Blake and Robert M. Wegener


The Alamo Dam area of west central Arizona is often characterized as peripheral to the major cultural groups associated with prehistoric habitation of Arizona. Research in this region has identified numerous sites consisting of low-density lithic scatters and seldom evidence of prolonged use or habitation. SRI’s recent 3000 acre survey, supported by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ARRA funding, resulted in recordation of 37 additional lithic scatters located primarily in bajada settings. We examine these lithic scatters in a regional land-use framework and the aboriginal use of locally ubiquitous lithic raw materials in the Alamo Dam region.

Prehistoric Settlement Patterns in Southeastern Nevada

Amelia M. Natoli, Scott H. Kremkau, Rita A. Sulkosky, and Cannon S. Daughtrey


This poster presents the results of a recent cultural resources survey of two USACE reservoirs totaling approximately 650 acres in southeastern Nevada. The project area is located at the boundary of several prehistoric groups, including, pre-Numic and Numic speaking foragers, Virgin River Anasazi and Freemont agriculturalists. The survey recorded 28 prehistoric sites which date from the middle Archaic to the Late Prehistoric periods. Artifacts indicate that the area was used by a number of different cultural groups. The poster discusses how the project sites fit into the wider prehistoric settlement system of southeastern Nevada.

Archaeological Condition Assessments: A Tool for Managing Cultural Resources

Jeffery R. Hanson and Robert A. Heckman


SRI, in conjunction with the USACOE, has developed a tool for land managers to aid in fulfilling their statutory mission regarding the identification, evaluation, protection and preservation of cultural resources. The archaeological condition assessment tool requires observations that measure levels of risk to sites based on the weighting of a number of explicit variables, or impacts, which can affect site integrity, and ultimately, significance. Examples from the National Historic Preservation Act Section 110 compliance surveys are presented showing how condition assessments provide efficient baseline and longitudinal data that assist decision makers in assessing and treating archaeological sites.

Enigmatic Rock Features of the Desert Southwest

Heather J. Miljour


A series of enigmatic rock features are located along the shores of Painted Rock Reservoir, Gila Bend, Arizona. This poster displays how archaeologists record such features, and offers solutions to problematic interpretations.

Managing Digital Collections: One Way Forward

Kimberly Maeyama, Susan Malin-Boyce, Natalie Drew, Lauren Jelinek, and Erica Young


36 CFR 79 mandates that archaeological collections be curated to a specific standard and be accessible to the public. A "curation crisis" has been identified wherein collections are at risk. The Army Corps of Engineers Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections utilized American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to initiate the Archaeological Records Pilot and Assessment (ARP&A) study addressing two issues facing the Corps and other agencies: 1) how to approach the long-term curation of associated records, specifically digital, within an archaeological collection, and 2) how to provide public and professional access to these records.

The Impact of Dam Construction on Fluvial Processes and Cultural Resources: Examples from Three Ephemeral Drainages in Southern Arizona

Jason D. Windingstad


Dam construction in deserts alters alluvial processes and archaeological context in riparian zones. As part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ARRA funded project, Statistical Research Inc. (SRI) completed geoarchaeological investigations at Alamo Lake (Bill Williams River), Painted Rock Reservoir (Gila River), and the Whitlow Ranch Flood Control Basin (Queen Creek). SRI regionally examined ephemeral stream response to dam construction using historic aerial photos, satellite imagery, and geomorphic reconnaissance. Results include post-dam fluvial surfaces overlying pre-dam landforms and archaeological resources up to 0.5 km upstream of reservoir backwaters, and post-dam landform formation has impacted site visibility and integrity.

2011 Annual Meeting of the Society for California Archeology  (Rohnert Park, California; March 2011)

Archaeological Investigations at the Yorba-Slaughter Adobe, San Bernardino County, California

Richard Ciolek-Torrello, Karen K. Swope, Justin Lev-Tov, Ashley Morton, James Clark, and Teresita Majewski


Statistical Research, Inc. recently completed data recovery at the historic Yorba-Slaughter Adobe in the Prado Basin. The research, conducted for the USACE, Los Angeles District, resulted from planned construction of a protective dike around this property. Our excavations uncovered numerous structural features relating to the operation of the Yorba-Slaughter ranch during the middle twentieth century, as well as several prehistoric roasting features. More important, however, were several refuse pits and rock features dating from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Thousands of artifacts and faunal remains recovered from these features provide a rare in-depth look into early California and Euro-American ranching in southern California.


American Cultural Resources Association SRI Foundation SRI Press Nexus Heritage General Services Administration (GSA)