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By L. Mark Raab

San Clemente Island serves as a microcosm of California maritime archaeology from prehistoric via historical instances. The authors use findings from approximately twenty years of analysis at the island to give a cultural background that defies many prior assumptions concerning the coastal prehistory of the Pacific Northwest.

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Additional info for California Maritime Archaeology: A San Clemente Island Perspective

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At Daisy Cave, basketry and cord- California Galapagos / 21 age remnants date between about cal 6,000 and 8,850 BC, making these usually perishable materials among the oldest of the North American Pacific Coast (Connolly et al. 1995). The earliest of these dates point to one of the earliest human settlements of the North American Pacific Coast (Erlandson et al. 1996). A series of radiocarbon dates from a human skeleton from Santa Rosa Island (“Arlington Woman”), along with associated organic materials, date between about 9,500 and 11,000 cal BC, a time range comparable to the initial occupation of Daisy Cave (Johnson et al.

The Northern Channel Islands are grouped significantly closer to the mainland than any individual island in the southern group 26 / Chapter 2 (figure 1-1), except Santa Catalina Island. However, even at the time of significant sea-level lowering during the last glacial maximum (17,000–18,000 years BP), San Clemente Island was not significantly closer to any other land mass than it is now (Vedder and Howell 1980). There was no prehistoric settlement of San Clemente Island without sea travel, a reality we examine in chapter 4.

Moratto (1984) was one of the first investigators to offer a serious challenge to this scenario. , the existence of distinctively maritime cultural adaptations on the California coast during the Early Holocene. Unlike previous suggestions along these lines, Moratto’s proposal enjoyed a key advantage: mounting empirical evidence of early coastal occupation. The advent of contract archaeology during the 1970s greatly expanded the scope of coastal research in California. This trend, employing modern data recovery techniques and funding for radiocarbon dating, quickly produced two interesting results.

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