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2 December 2010
Farmer uncovers clues to coastal California history

Fifty years ago George Silva began collecting artifacts he discovered while working his Watsonville, Calfiornia (US) farm. Located 20 miles inland in the Pajaro Valley, about 70 miles south of San Francisco, it is a region that has been inhabited for 12,000 years. The stone pestles found by Silva were likely used to grind acorns that served as a major food source for the early Californians. Rather than the usual stone mortars, the inhabitants created bottomless baskets that would fit over any flat rock. This eleiminated the need to transport heavy mortars from place to place.
     About 3,000 BPE, a group of people known as the Costanoan/Ohlone arrived in the Pajaro Valley.  According to archaeologist Rob Edwards, retired from Cabrillo College, the artifacts from the Silva farm reveal the evolution of their culture. "Archeology can look at things and tell a story that isn't immediately apparent," he said. "Native people lived here for a very long time and adapted to their environment and changed their technology over time to make it more efficient and easier." Edwards has assembled an exhibit at the Freedom Branch Library.
     Silva passed his collection on to his daughter Beverly Silva Kelley and his granddaughter Karell Reader, who loaned the items to the library for the exhibit. In addition to the pestles, there are two large stone balls that may have served as anchors.  There is also a small, concave stone whose use has not been determined. Edwards is soliciting suggestions as to its purpose.

Edited from Santa Cruz Sentinel (21 November 2010)

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