Research and Activities
The Archaeological Curation Facility (ACF) houses historic and prehistoric archaeological collections from Northern California and adjacent regions that are available for research by professional archaeologists, faculty, students, and other qualified individuals. A list of collections and their constituents is available on request. Individuals interested in accessing ACF collections must complete the Research Request Form. All research requests must reviewed by the CSUS Collections Committee. The ACF does not permit research on human remains, funerary objects, sacred items, and objects of cultural patrimony without explicit permission from descendent communities.
- Advanced undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in ANTH 292 (supervised by J. Fisher) are currently analyzing the material remains from Kathy's Rockshelter (CA-BUT-301). The high level of preservation at the site allowed for the recovery of a variety of perishables (e.g., basketry, wood implements, cordage, coprolites), faunal remains, and lithic artifacts. The site may date to 4000 years ago based on projectile point analyses conducted in 1988 by the late Randy Bethard. Historic use of the site is represented by bottle glass projectile points and other flaked glass, glass trade beads, buttons, nails, and textiles. Student research includes (a) analysis of faunal remains; (b) analysis of worked bone implements; (c) analysis of worked wood implements; (d) analysis of debitage; (e) analysis of obsidian sources; and (f) analysis of groundstone and battered implements.
- Laurel Zickler-Martin will be analyzing canid remains from northern California archaeological sites. The long-term goal of this study is to assess the capacity the Canine Surrogacy Approach can be utilized effectively in California. To this end, an investigation into the quantity and distribution of prehistoric domestic dogs from ACF collections will be conducted; materials will consist of specimens identified as dog, wolf, coyote, or broadly to genus Canis, from a variety of temporal, depositional, and spatial contexts. This investigation will be implemented following a survey, testing, and statistical analysis of standard and proposed metric and nonmetric morphological criteria for distinguishing between species of Canis osteological specimens. Results of this morphometric control study, which will be undertaken on California zoological museum specimens of known taxonomic identity, will then be applied to archaeological specimens from ACF collections. This endeavor is intended to address a) the interpretive effects of the difficulty in distinguishing between the members of the genus Canis; b) the challenges in identifying fragmentary Canis familiaris archaeological specimens when depositional context and available morphological information do not provide sufficient supplemental inferential certainty.
- Shannon Goshen is completing her master's thesis research on avifaunal remains from the King Brown Site (CA-SAC-29). The analysis of avian faunal remains from the CA-SAC-29 collection (ACF Accession: 81-110) contributes to regional studies of anthropogenic impacts to local game population and distribution during the late Holocene. The study provides taxonomic composition, relative abundance, and taphonomic data for over 4,000 avifauna remains from the site. Couched in an optimal foraging theory framework, results show an assemblage dominated by waterfowl in which the most profitable taxa (geese) decline in relative abundance over the time of occupation at Sac-29. A mix of harvest pressures and changing environmental conditions likely contributed to this trend.
- Emilie Zelazo recently completed her master's thesis on faunal remains from six sites located in the lower Sacramento Valley, including samples from department curated collections (CA-SAC-29, SAC-67, SAC-267, and SAC-329). Her study focused developing a regional synthesis of diachronic faunal exploitation using a combination of paleoenvironmental reconstruction (catchment areas) and stochastic measures. Results demonstrated that in contrast to previous conclusions, foraging efficiency increased during the Late Period at the same time as diet breadth widened. Quantitative analyses demonstrated that this contradiction was best explained by the introduction of new hunting technologies in the Late Period which increased successful encounter rates particularly with large mammals and anadromous fishes.
- Dr. Jack Broughton (U. of Utah) is currently analyzing elk (Cervus elaphus) remains from the King Brown Site (CA-SAC-29). Resource depression refers to declines in the encounter rate of a prey species that result from predator activities. Over the last several decades, a small industry of fine-grained archaeofaunal demonstrations of late Holocene resource depression and associated declines in human hunting efficiency has emerged. Centered in western North America, especially California, this work has shown that the significance and implications of resource depression are far-reaching and range from correlated changes in human behavior and biology involving settlement systems, interpersonal violence, and morbidity and mortality, to modern wildlife management. Standard archaeological indicators of resource depression—such as declining relative abundances of high-ranked taxa—are, however, imperfect and cannot distinguish between broad-scale prey population declines versus local movements of prey away from human settlements. In addition, it is hard to evaluate the effect of climate change on prey declines, because of the difficulty in aligning time series of archaeological abundance data with those of paleoclimatic proxies. We need a more robust methodology—one that informs more directly about specific causes including climate change. This proposal seeks funding to further develop and test such a methodology using both ancient DNA (aDNA) and stable isotopes derived from the bones of elk (Cervus elaphus), the largest and highest-ranked terrestrial vertebrate on the California landscape.
- In 2013-14, ACF received a Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) External Grant to fund further developments to our volunteer program. The ASI Grant will be used to improve the volunteer program by funding a series of Volunteer Training Workshops and to support a part-time Student Outreach Assistant position.
- In 2012-13, ACF received a University Enterprises, Inc. (UEI) Campus Grant to fund a volunteer project on rehabilitation of photographic archives. Due to the destructive nature of archaeology, the photographic archives associated with artifact collections are an important component of the archaeologial record, while also providing a rich source of data on the history of archaeology conducted by Sacramento State since the 1950s. Students rehabilitated photographs, slides, and negatives using stablizing archival material, and organizing these images to be used for research by faculty, staff, and students at Sacramento State and beyond, to assist in repatriations under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and to exhibit the history of the Department of Anthropology to the campus community.
- In 2011, ACF was awarded a NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant for the "American River Project". This grant funded NAGPRA actions for a series of historically occupied sites located along the American River in Sacramento County. The project consists of consultation, developing and sharing a GIS spatial database with tribes, rehabilitation, and inventorying. This project will serve to expedite the consultation process first by consolidating collections from sites that are related geographically and chronologically, and second, by presenting information in a user-friendly GIS format. It is anticipated that this project will result in the repatriation of five sites.
- In 2011-12, ACF was contracted to rehabilitate archaeological collections from CA-MAD-177, located in Hensley Reservoir in Madera County.
- In 2011-12, ACF was contracted to rehabilitate archaeological collections from Bennett Mound (Nawean; CA-SAC-16), located approximately four miles northwest of downtown Sacramento. Artifact typology and burial patterns indicate that the site was in use from the Middle Horizon and into the Historic Period. ACF holds collections from five discrete field operations at the site, from the 1920s to 1990. Analysis of materials from the site is currently underway by AECOM.
- In 2010, ACF was contracted to rehabilitate the archaeological collection from CA-PLA-272, located in Martis Valley. Analysis of lithic artifacts from the site are currently underway by Far Western Anthropological Research Group.
- In 2009, ACF was awarded a NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant for inventorying and consultation for our Zallio Collection. The Anthony Zallio collection dates to the 1920-30s, primarily from sites in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta region in north-central California, an area where few archaeological sites now remain due to urban and agricultural development. The project entailed consultation and documentation to make cultural affiliation determinations, while also developing and implementing an user-friendly database.
October 12, 2013
At the ACF, we have recently been reviewing our policies regarding the computation of minimum number of individuals (MNI) for reporting under NAGPRA. Many issues regarding the use of this statistic for NAGPRA inventorying purposes were presented in a poster at the Western Bioarchaeology Group (WeBiG) First Annual Conference, held at University of California, Berkeley.
Fisher, Jacob L., Kristin M. Macak, and Wendy J. Nelson. Ancestral Remains as Numbers: Problems with Calculating MNI under NAGPRA.
October 3, 2013
ACF faculty, staff, and volunteers presented on NAGPRA research at the 28th Annual California Indian Conference and Gathering, held at California State University, Sacramento.
Badovinac, Peggy and Wendy J. Nelson. The Village of Kadema: A Multi-Cultural Gathering Place.
Fisher, Jacob L. The Road Home: NAGPRA from a Museum Perspective.
Nelson, Wendy J. The Road Home: Researching Cultural Affiliation.
October 24, 2011
Staff from the ACF participated in Food Day held in the Union at Calfornia State University, Sacramento on October 24, 2011. The event was sponsored by the Center of Science for the Public Interest. Posters that took an anthropological approach to food were prepared for the event by ACF staff as well as by students of the Department of Anthropology
Falke, Mariko (2011). Sushi: An Anthropological Review of a Nutritious Meal that Now Spans the World.
Fisher, Jacob (2011). Butchering and Cooking of Jackrabbits at Antelope Cave, Arizona.
Goshen, Shannon and Emilie Zelazo (2011). Past Sustainability: An Examination of Prehistoric Diet in the Sacramento Valley.
Nelson, Wendy (2011). Diet and Nutrition in the Past: Human Coprolites from Fish Slough Cave.