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14 June 2017
Prehistoric site discovered off California coast

A crew working on a rehabilitation project of the historic Main Ranch House on Santa Rosa Island have discovered an ancient Native American site beneath the building. Santa Rosa is the second-largest of California's Channel Islands, about 100 kilometres west of Los Angeles. It is part of the Channel Islands National Park.
     The house was constructed sometime after 1869 and served as a sheep and cattle ranch for more than 150 years. It had been lifted to allow construction of a foundation. Within a few days of tunneling, the archaeological monitor found stone flakes, and work was suspended while an archeological team conducted an investigation in consultation with elders of the local Chumash tribe, who call the island Wima, meaning 'driftwood'.
     Gary Brown, National Park Service archaeologist, says: "there are intact paleocoastal deposits from the south end of the house to the opposite end on the north." He and his team first found a distinctive stone called a Channel Islands barbed point, and later a crescent - two types of stone tools made from local chert. Both likely would have been used to hunt and fish, and represent a sophisticated technology of early tool making on the islands. They are between 8,000 and 16,000 years old.
     Speaking about the tools, Jon Erlandson, University of Oregon Archeologist and leading expert on Paleocoastal archeology, reveals: "Usually, when we find the two of them together, the site is at least 10,000 years old and could be 12,000 years old or older." Erlandson says the Chumash people and their ancestors have been on the islands for thousands of years. "That suggests that these were some of the very earliest peoples along the Pacific Coast. We know now that they were on the islands as early as they were practically anywhere in the new world. The Channel Islands, especially the northern islands, are emerging as one of the central places in understanding the peopling of the new world."
     Santa Rosa Island is also where the "Arlington Man" was discovered - the oldest known human remains found in North America, dating back about 13,000 years. The team hopes to find clues about the prey being hunted then.

Edited from Ventura County Star (5 June 2017), Keyt.com (6 June 2017)

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