Research and Activities

Research Requests

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.

Prospective graduate students may find more information regarding the graduate program in archaeology here

Recent Research

  • Undergraduate and graduate students have been analyzing material remains from Kathy's Rockshelter (CA-BUT-301), located in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, under the supervision of Dr. Jacob Fisher. The site assemblage is notable in that it shows a pattern of "deintensification" and environmental rebound that began around the time Europeans began exploring and colonizing more distant regions. 
  • Laurel Zickler-Martin completed her master's thesis (2015) research on canid remains from select northern California archaeological sites. Her initial research identified metric and nonmetric morphological criteria for distinguishing species of Canis osteological specimens, which were then applied to fragmentary archaeofaunal specimens.  
  • Jack Broughton (Professor, U. of Utah) is analyzing elk (Cervus elaphus) remains from the King Brown Site (CA-SAC-29). This project develops and tests a methodology using both ancient DNA (aDNA) and stable isotopes derived from elk remains that will better inform archaeologists of the specific underlying causes for the previously observed resource depression. 
  • Shannon Goshen recently completed her master's thesis (2013) research on avifaunal remains from the King Brown Site (CA-SAC-29). Couched in an optimal foraging theory framework, her results show that geese decline in relative abundance compared to smaller-bodied waterfowl over time 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 (2013) on faunal remains from six sites located in the lower Sacramento Valley, including samples from ACF collections (CA-SAC-29, SAC-67, SAC-267, and SAC-329). Her study focused on 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 hunting efficiency of large mammals and anadromous fishes.

Past News 

  • In 2013-14, ACF received a Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) External Grant to fund further developments to our volunteer program. 
  • In 2012-13, ACF received a University Enterprises, Inc. (UEI) Campus Grant to fund a student volunteer project to rehabilitate our photographic archives. 
  • In 2011, ACF was awarded a NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant for the "American River Project" that includes collections from historically occupied sites located along the American River in Sacramento County. 
  • 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. 
  • In 2010, ACF was contracted to rehabilitate the archaeological collection from CA-PLA-272, located in Martis Valley. 
  • In 2009, ACF was awarded a NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant for inventorying and consultation for our Zallio Collection. 


March 10, 2016

Bradshaw, Ryan T. and Paul E. Allgaier, Jr. Flaked Stone Tool Diversity as a Reflection of Subsistence Intensification in Butte County, California. Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting, 2016. 

October 28, 2014

Ryan, Tim. Roots of Intensification: Archaeological evidence for the increased use of bulbs in Northern California.  Provost Student Research Showcase, Sacramento, 2014.

March 22, 2014

Students and supporting staff presented a series of posters at the Society for California Archaeology at the 2014 annual meetings in Visalia. 

Norton, Tammara. Kathy's Rockshelter (CA-BUT-301): Poster Session in Honor of Kenneth R. "Randy" Bethard, 1953-2012.

Nelson, Wendy. Paths Crossed: Researching Cultural Affiliation for Kathy's Rockshelter.

Bradshaw, Ryan T. and Marcelle Powers. Lithic Procurement and Manufacture at Kathy's Rockshelter.

Brown, Gloria Howat, Jennifer Mak, Janel Thompson, and Brittney Woods. Analysis of Utilitarian Implements at Kathy's Rockshelter.

Wall, Bridget R. and Charles Hutcheson. Evidence of Early Historic Native American Occupation at Kathy's Rockshelter.

Zickler-Martin, Laurel, Jacob L. Fisher, Abby Trowbridge, Marisol Delgadillo. The Kathy's Rockshelter Faunal Assemblage: Insights into Butte County Prehistory. 

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. 

Fisher, Jacob L., Kristin M. Macak, and Wendy J. Nelson. Ancestral Remains as Numbers: Problems with Calculating MNI under NAGPRA. Western Bioarchaeology Group (WeBiG) First Annual Conference, Berkeley.

October 3, 2013

Badovinac, Peggy and Wendy J. Nelson. The Village of Kadema: A Multi-Cultural Gathering Place. 28th Annual California Indian Conference and Gathering, Sacramento.

Fisher, Jacob L. The Road Home: NAGPRA from a Museum Perspective28th Annual California Indian Conference and Gathering, Sacramento.

Nelson, Wendy J. The Road Home: Researching Cultural Affiliation28th Annual California Indian Conference and Gathering, Sacramento.

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