The Skeletal Biology and Chronological Placement of Prehistoric Site: CA-SCL-134

Primary Investigators: Brieann DeOrnellas and Alan Leventhal.

Faculty Sponsors: Dr. Charlotte Sunseri and Mr. Alan Leventhalbrieann-deornellas

Background: In 2006, under the direction of Alan Leventhal, a team of SJSU anthropology students and anthropology Alumni Susan Morley and Glen Wilson along with members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe conducted an archaeological data and burial recovery program on a site located along Calabazas Creek in the City of Santa Clara.  The site was previously recorded years prior to the recovery program and is designated CA-SCL-134.  Since the recovery program concluded this population of 24+ ancestral Muwekma Ohlone burials have been cleaned and informally inventoried by several SJSU students working with Alan Leventhal, however no comprehensive skeletal analysis had ever been conducted or the cemetery population dated.

As a result undergraduate anthropology student Brieann DeOrnellas enrolled in Leventhal’s Fall 2016 Anthropology 195 class decided to undertake the skeletal biological analysis of this ancestral population which has since been safely curated in the department’s curatorial facility.  Furthermore, with written permission from the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal leadership small samples from these burials were sent to Dr. Eric Bartelink (CSU, Chico) for Stable Isotope, to Drs. Brian Kemp and Cara Monroe from Washington State University and University of Oklahoma, Norman and to Dr. Ripan Mahli from the Departments of Anthropology and Animal Biology, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for Ancient DNA, and to Dr. Jelmer Eerkens at U.C. Davis for Strontium studies.  A co-authored final report will publish the results of the skeletal analysis, stable isotope, ancient DNA, Strontium, and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) C14 dating of this population.  This final report will also include an ethnohistory of about the tribe’s relationship to the Santa Clara Valley region written by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal leadership and language committee.

College of Social Sciences Foundation Research Grant:

In order to accomplish the AMS dating goals stated above, Brieann applied for a grant from the College of Social Sciences Research Foundation this past Fall 2016 semester.  She was awarded $2500.00 for her research proposal for the AMS dating of up to nine burials and the resulting dates will be updated on this profile.  The results from this collaborative study will also be presented at future professional conferences.

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