Our FREE General meetings are held on the 4th Tues. of each month, except December (and summer months) at 7:30 pm. Come early to mingle, socialize, and network with fellow archaeology-minded folks - and enjoy light refreshments.
The meetings are held at Los Peñasquitos Ranch House.
Tuesday May 28th, 2013 @7:30 p.m.
Maya Vases Speak: The Story of a Peten Prince's Sacrifice Told in Glyphs and Iconography
Presented by Dr. Judith S. Green Wells
The subject of this illustrated lecture developed when a bowl recently gifted to the San Diego Museum of Man in the Dr. Geoffrey A. Smith Collection came to my attention. It has rich iconography of calendrical vocalizing birds and a partly translatable text that fascinated me because it included the rare glyphs YAX CH'AB (“first blood sacrifice”) . Working with Michel Quenon and Erik Boot, both experienced epigraphers and iconographers, we discovered other vessels in the Justin Kerr Mayavase database for comparison. One from that database revealed explicitly three important aspects of the rite that had not been discussed in print. Also there is evidence that indicates that these vases were specifically made as gifts to important visitors at the feasts commemorating the ritual. We know that many of these treasures ended up in the tombs of their noble recipients. The vase thus "speaks" not only of the rite, and the prince and kin, but also reveals where he came from as the text includes an emblem glyph identifying the polity of Hixwitz, Guatemala.
When more vessels scattered in museums and private collections can be translated, even more can be deduced about Classic Maya history in the Guatemalan Peten. Of course, this in no way replaces the wealth of information gained when vases are excavated in situ by archaeologists.
Tuesday April 23rd, 2013 @7:30 p.m.
Does San Diego County have a chronology problem? And why can’t we agree on this like everywhere else?
Presented by Dr. Mark Becker
Despite over 80 years of archaeological work in San Diego County, there’s still no consensus on a chronological scheme. This in itself is an interesting problem whereas other regions seem to settle on a basic chronology early on. This talk is not intended to solve this problem, or even propose a new scheme, but simply explore the reasons why this issue remains without resolution. One important aspect of the chronology problem concerns the non-formalization of the lithic assemblage. Lithic artifacts are often a corner stone of chronological frameworks since 99 percent of prehistory is composed of this artifact type. This non-formalization of the San Diego lithic assemblage should not be viewed as a purely expedient technology with little thought, but instead, as an alternative strategy that was both fairly unique to the region, and was also very successful throughout the Holocene Period.
Tuesday March 26th, 2013 @7:30 p.m.
Reconstruction of Life on the Southern California Coast
Presented by Dr. Tori Randall
Information pertaining to human biology, nutrition, and paleopathology can be gained from the study of human bones, and it is well known that analysis of skeletal material contributes to the knowledge of past populations.The lifestyle and behavior of a group of prehistoric southern Californians has been investigated, and an osteological approach was used to provide a broad perspective on the health and nutrition, behavior, and population history of the coastal skeletal population.
Research on the skeletal population has shed light on individual behavior patterns that has added to our knowledge of the population’s lifestyle and our knowledge of southern California’s prehistory. Inferences about the general health and behavior of the population have been made through the study of skeletal indicators of dietary deficiency and stress, dental disease, interpersonal violence, osteoarthritis, and behavioral skeletal markers. Information about general subsistence behavior and mobility has been acquired through the study of differences in upper and lower limb diaphyseal robusticity and shape. Finally, the migration history of the southern Californians has been illuminated through the study of cranial morphology.
Tuesday February 26th, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.
The Processing and Technological Application of Asphaltum in Southern California
Presented by Kaitlin Brown
Asphaltum, also referred to as bitumen or tar, is a naturally occurring petroleum by-product used for thousands of years by native Californians as an adhesive and waterproofing agent. Asphaltum fragments, cakes, and asphaltum encrusted artifacts preserve well in the archaeological record and are found throughout California coastal and Channel Island deposits. Native peoples in southern California left behind an asphaltum production tool kit that is easily identifiable in the cultural material. In this presentation, I will discuss the research I have conducted on asphaltum production specifically focusing on its acquisition, processing, application, and functional analysis at a Late Holocene Site on San Nicolas Island. Using a multidisciplinary methodology, I will show the many activities involved in producing a tool that utilizes asphaltum and its long technological heritage in place before European contact.
Tuesday January 22nd, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.
Descanso Notched Points: Innovation, Culture, and Interaction
Presented by Andrew Pigniolo
Distinctive foliate projectile points with multiple side notches, called here Descanso Notched points, reflect a narrow distribution in space and probably time. Their distribution in northern Baja California and southern San Diego County suggests a short-lived innovation. The narrow frequency distribution of this style provides a marker for both group territory and interaction sphere approximately 7,000 years BP. This has implications for modeling mobility and exchange in the distant past and leaves us with questions about why such a unique innovation was so localized.