The Archaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Site CA-SCL-125

Investigator/Master’s Project: Elisabeth Mabie

Faculty Sponsors: Dr. Marco Meniketti and Alan Leventhal

Background: Sometime between 1972 and 1973 the construction of residential homes adjacent to the Santa Teresa Hills in South San Jose yielded evidence of a prehistoric ancestral Ohlone mortuary site later identified as CA-SCL-125.  Volunteers from the local community along with archaeologists from West Valley College and San Jose State University conducted a series of salvage excavations culminating in the recovery of approximately 32 burials along with the associated archaeological assemblage consisting of flaked and ground stone tools.


Due to the nature of the salvage recovery program, limited field notes were taken, and haphazard excavations proceeded without the benefit of any controls.  The recovered burials and the archaeological assemblage were taken to the SJSU Department of Anthropology’s fledgling curation/lab facility where these materials were washed and partially catalogued.  Under the direction of Physical Anthropologist Dr. Robert Jurmain, his advanced osteology students conducted a preliminary skeletal inventory of these human remains.  Since the time of the final excavations, no comprehensive analysis of the skeletal population or the associated archaeological assemblage has occurred, nor has any radiocarbon dating been conducted on materials from this site.  Permission was granted by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe to pursue radiocarbon dating of the human remains recovered from the site and also gave permission to conduct Stable Isotope and ancient DNA studies.  Work commenced on the analysis of this archaeological assemblage in 2010 under the direction of Alan Leventhal as part of his Anthropology 195 class.  These aforementioned studies will contribute to the writing of a final archaeological report on the CA-SCL-125 excavations, analysis of the burial population, and temporal placement of the site in a regional context as part of Elisabeth’s Master’s Project.


College of Social Sciences Foundation Research Grant: In order to conduct the dating of CA-SCL-125, during the Fall 2011 semester, Beth applied for a grant from the College of Social Sciences Research Foundation and was awarded $1370.00 for AMS dating.  On November 9, 2011 Beta Analytic radiocarbon lab reported the results of two dates with mid-ranges of AD 1420 for Burial #1 and 200 BC associated with Burial 6.  As a result these dates demonstrate the presence of at least two distinct temporal components within this site: Phase 1C of the Late Period (AD 1300 – 1500) and Early Middle Period (200 BC – AD 100).


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