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Gary S. Breschini

Contents:    Introduction
The Central California Taxonomic System
Gerow's Convergence Model
Fredrickson's Periodization Model
King and Hickman's Model of Increasing
   Cultural Complexity
King and Hickman's "Northward
  Movement" Model
References Cited

This article originally appeared as Chapter 2 of Models of Population Movements in Central California Prehistory, Ph.D.Dissertation, Washington State University, 1983.


The earliest attempts at archaeological culture classification which took place in Central California were centered primarily around the San Francisco Bay and the "climax" area of the Sacramento Delta. Based largely on Kroeber's concepts of culture-area and diffusion, many of the adjacent areas were, until recently, almost universally regarded as "backward," and of little importance in deciphering the broad patterns of prehistory in Central California.

The first serious attempt at archaeological modeling and classification in Central California was made by Max Uhle (1907), who recognized a series of ten natural levels at the Emeryville shellmound following his excavations in 1902. These levels he subdivided into two phases of occupation, noting differences in artifacts, burial pattern, and shellfish species from the lower to the upper layers of the mound (Warren 1973:218-219). Kroeber, at that time the dominant figure in prehistoric research throughout Central California, did not agree that the culture change observed by Uhle was significant. Writing shortly after Uhle, Kroeber stated: "It does appear that there was some gradual elaboration and refinement of technical processes, but it was a change of degree only" (1909:15).

The following year, Nelson, in describing the Ellis Landing shellmound, stated that "the same general types of implements prevail from the bottom of the refuse heap to the top" (1910:402). This hypothesis of little change within Central California persisted for a number of years, and was restated by Kroeber several times. For example, in his Handbook of the Indians of California Kroeber wrote: "The archaeology of California has but rarely added anything to the determinations of ethnology beyond a dim vista of time and some vague hint toward a recognition of the development of culture" (1925:925-926). Additionally, Kroeber stated: "Nor do the local varieties of culture seem to have advanced or receded or replace one another to any extent" (1925:926). In retrospect, Kroeber appears to have been searching for change of a greater magnitude, possibly on the order of the change from hunting and gathering to food production.

In his 1909 paper, Kroeber called for greater quantities of data. In the next few years, this information began to appear as a number of other Bay region sites were excavated and reported. The principal early excavations and analyses included those of Nelson (1909, 1910), Loud (1918), and Gifford (1916). Even after this additional information began to appear, Kroeber's belief that there had been no significant cultural development or change in Central California remained dominant. As Beardsley concludes:

Twelve years of work in the limited field around San Francisco Bay thus gave evidence for one meaningful generalization. Around San Francisco Bay, and (it was implied) throughout the state of California, aboriginal culture had remained static for a period of up to 3500 or 4000 years.

Local archaeology seemed to promise so little of positive value that the resources of the department [of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley] were diverted to rescue ethnographic information from the survivors of the last aboriginal generation of California Indian groups. Archaeology in Central California was shelved for twenty years . . . [Beardsley 1954:4].

This prevailing opinion (actually a very simple model) that there were no significant cultural stages or periods in Central California persisted, under Kroeber's dominance, until 1929, at which time no less than four separate chronologies from different areas of California and Nevada appeared. Schenck and Dawson (1929) published a tentative chronology for the northern San Joaquin Valley, M.J. Rogers (1929) reported a sequence of three cultural periods for the southern part of California, D.B. Rogers (1929) detailed his Oak Grove, Hunting, and Canaliño Cultures of the Santa Barbara region (Warren 1973:222-223), and Loud and Harrington (1929) described a sequence for Lovelock Cave, in North-central Nevada (Fredrickson 1973:18).

In spite of these other sequences which had appeared for areas of California and Nevada, Kroeber still would not readily accept the notion that Central California cultures had changed appreciably through time. As late as 1936, he again repeated his position, stating that: ". . . we have clues, and should feel encouraged; but we have not as yet any proofs for generalizations of breadth or depth" (Kroeber 1936b:115).

As an increasing amount of data became available, especially form excavations then being conducted in the Lower Sacramento Valley area, and under the impetus of the numerous sequences and chronologies which began to appear in other areas of California and the west, it was only a matter of time before broad scale sequences were constructed for Central California. Because of Kroeber's continuing domination at the University of California it was almost inevitable that the sequences would have to be developed elsewhere.

The Central California Taxonomic System

In the 1930s, a number of excavations were conducted in the Sacramento Delta and Lower Sacramento Valley areas by the Department of Anthropology at Sacramento Junior College. From the research conducted in these areas, the first major Central California sequence was developed. Proposed by Lillard, Heizer, and Fenenga, this sequence became known as the Central California Taxonomic System (Lillard, Heizer, and Fenenga 1939; Heizer and Fenenga 1939).

The Central California Taxonomic System identified three broad culture periods or horizons, designated the Early, Middle (originally called the Transitional), and Late Horizons. These were based on taxonomic criteria derived from excavations primarily in the Lower Sacramento Valley, as it was still thought that the Bay area did not exhibit cultural change. For the most part, the cultural sequence was based on a typology of artifacts found with burials (Lillard, Heizer, and Fenenga 1939:2).

In the Early Horizon, burials are found in predictable fashion (extended, face down, and oriented westerly), with many ". . . carefully made and ritually treated artifacts as to imply keen and personal concern with the ceremonialism of death" [Beardsley 1948:6]. Other important aspects of the Early Horizon were: large numbers of quartz crystals in burials; powdered red ochre sprinkled over burials; large chert or slate projectile points; use of metates, abundant charmstones, usually phallic in shape and drilled; exclusive use of red-backed abalone; human bones used for artifacts; and specific Olivella and abalone beads and ornaments. Sites tend to be very compact and located away from present water sources. Skeletal material was highly mineralized.

Middle Horizon peoples were less careful about burials and the burials had few or no grave goods. Many burials were found with projectile points imbedded in them [Beardsley 1948:6]. Typical were tightly flexed burials on the side or back with no particular orientation; cremations appear and are associated with more grave goods than burials; projectile points were still large but were more often of obsidian; fishtail type charmstones; cobblestone platforms associated with burials; steatite earplugs and tubes; use of green-backed abalone; perforated ground slate pendants; absence of pipes; specific beads and ornaments of Olivella shells; and mammal bone whistles.

In the Late Horizon artistic care with the domestic arts, and reserves of shell beads and ornaments were noted [Beardsley 1948:6]. The soil in sites is dark, ashy, and 'greasy;' sites are located near present water sources; skeletal material is light and friable; laterally notched small projectile points of obsidian; biconically drilled stone pipes; thick steatite beads; magnesite disc beads and tubes; charmstones are replaced by flat circular stone discoidals; acorn anvils' particular shell beads (clam disc shell beads appear here); exclusive use of red-backed abalone; bird bone whistles; many baked clay objects; cremation was the usual method of disposal of the dead, but some flexed and extended burials were found; and animal mandibles and teeth were found in burials [Bergthold, Breschini and Haversat 1980:10].

Once this model of Central California prehistory was established and refined, mainly by Beardsley (1948, 1954), and Heizer (1949), but also by Belous (1953) and a number of other researchers, the University of California Archaeological Survey made it a continuing program to "investigate the archaeology of all parts of California and relate the local sequences to that of the Delta region, where the succession of cultures is relatively well worked out" (Baumhoff 1957:1). It was primarily through this program that the archaeological sequence most widely used in Central California was developed, expanded, and tested.

The areal extent of the applicability of this sequence was not known, but it was generally assumed that the sequence applied at least as far south as Diablo Canyon, where a junction, generally placed at the 35th parallel, was thought to exist between the Central and Southern California culture provinces (Greenwood 1972:89).

In order to deal with the ever increasing amounts of data it became necessary to refine the classificatory framework, and to add subdivisions to the temporally and culturally broad Early, Middle, and Late Horizons. Between 1946 and 1948, Beardsley applied to California archaeology the terms "province," "facies," and "component" which had been discussed during a series of conferences at Berkeley in early 1946. These terms were based to some degree on the Pecos Conference system and the Midwestern taxonomic system, but modifications were necessary before they could be satisfactorily applied to Central California archaeology (Beardlsey 1954:6).

As used in the Central California Taxonomic System, the term "horizon" referred to broad temporal and spatial levels, the term "province" to geographic subdivisions within horizons, and the term "facies" to a group of settlements which may be distinguished on the basis of recurrent trait assemblages from another group within a province. Finally, the term "component" was used to designate an archaeological record of human occupancy at a single locality during a specific period of time (Beardsley 1948, 1954). These terms were also utilized by Heizer (1949).

The process by which individual sites were assigned their places in the classificatory system is described by Heizer as follows:

We have proceeded from the first on the basis of assemblages of artifact types associated with burials, matching one group of contemporaneous burials (in a single-period cemetery) with other series of intercontemporaneous burials from the same or a different site. On the basis of similarity or difference, aided by stratigraphy, we determine horizon, province, and facies [Heizer 1949:2].
Following extensive research, primarily by Beardsley, but under the direction of Heizer, a cultural sequence was agreed upon for Central California. This sequence, which dates to approximately 1946-1948, is shown in Table 1 (Beardsley 1948:4, 1954: Table 1).

Table 1. Culture Sequences in Central California Archaeology, 1946-1948
(sources: Beardsley 1948:4, 1954: Table 1).
Note: Lower case names are components. Classificational terms are capitalized.

In its application, however, the Central California Taxonomic System was based upon one question assumption, and in its use exhibited at least two major inherent weaknesses. These are discussed in the following sections.

The questionable assumption was in part an outgrowth of the limited archaeological data which was available when Central California sequences were first constructed on a large scale.

The first major archaeological sequence which was established for Central California was that of the Lower Sacramento Valley, where the longest known record of human occupation and the greatest amount of data from the Early Horizon was available. The other area in which a number of major excavations had taken place, the Bay region, had not produced sufficient evidence of cultural change to permit the establishment of a sequence. As a result, between about 1936 and 1939 when the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence was formulated, the Bay region was still assumed either to have very subtle cultural changes, or to be lacking evidence of culture change. This opinion was based primarily on Kroeber's interpretation of Uhle's work in the San Francisco Bay area, over 30 years earlier.

Once the sequence was established for the Lower Sacramento Valley area, it was implicitly assumed that the sequences for other areas of Central California could then be interpreted on the basis of that one well known sequence (cf. Baumhoff 1957:1).

The justification for the assumption that the archaeological sequence of the Lower Sacramento Valley could be applied to adjacent regions of Central and North-central California was primarily Kroeber's concept of culture-area (Fredrickson 1973:72), which also included an implicit acceptance of the theory of diffusion. On the basis of these two concepts, it was assumed that groups at or near the center of the culture-area possessed all or nearly all of the characteristic traits that defined the culture-area. Groups that were located at some distance from the center of the culture-area had fewer of the characteristic traits and were considered "marginal" to the "climax" region. Groups at the edges of the culture-area shared traits associated with more than one culture-area (Fredrickson 1973:72-73).

The Lower Sacramento Valley had been defined as a "climax" culture-area by Kroeber (1920, 1939) who wrote:

A favorable ecological margin evidently brought about a cultural luxuriance, which, with but little material from the two great centers to work upon, because of remoteness from both, fell back on native materials to elaborate [Kroeber 1939:55].
On the basis of this, and the relatively well known archaeological sequence which was available from that area, it was generally and implicitly assumed by many, although not all, researchers that the Lower Sacramento Valley area was the "climax" region, and that other local archaeological sequences could be best interpreted in relationship to the events which occurred there. This attitude was supported by Kroeber's repeated declaration that there was little evidence of cultural development or change in the Bay region.

Ideally, utilizing the culture-area concept, the culture history of Central California was to be formulated through the process of expanding the archaeological sequences of the Interior Valley (the Lower Sacramento Valley in particular) to adjacent areas, where they would become the interpretive keys for understanding local sequences, at least to the extent that the different sequences were generally compatible.

The entire process of developing archaeological sequences for most of Central California was based on this one major assumption, and its accuracy depends largely upon the accuracy of this assumption. As Fredrickson has pointed out:

Although it has not been expressly stated, the assumption appears to have been that the archaeology of this region adequately represented the climax region of Central California . . . and . . . marginal or border regions are not important to the understanding of the cultural development of the areas under consideration [Fredrickson 1973:79].
One of the major inherent weaknesses in the use of the Central California Taxonomic System, stemming primarily from the assumption discussed above, was that an archaeological culture which was found in an area adjacent to the Lower Sacramento Valley would be judged almost exclusively on the number of traits which were held in common with the established cultures of the Lower Sacramento Valley region. The fewer the number of shared traits that could be established, the more marginal the local culture was assumed to have been--marginal in relation to the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence.

As an example, the local cultures of the San Francisco Bay region, such as the Ellis Landing facies (Coastal Province, Middle Horizon; see Table 1) which were begun between 3,000 and 4,000 B.P., were considered to be a "local marginal and culturally backward area into which outside influences either failed to spread or spread slowly or halfheartedly" (Kroeber 1936a:112).

There had been indirect evidence of early cultures on the coast from the inception of the Central California Taxonomic System. Lillard, Heizer, and Fenenga wrote:

We can postulate a coastal population coeval with the Early period valley dwellers, since it is improbable that people would migrate to the seacoast, manufacture a few shell beads, and return with no raw shell materials, sea mammal bones, etc. [Lillard, Heizer, and Fenenga 1939:75].
These San Francisco Bay cultures, which were recognized as being early, were almost always evaluated in relation to the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence, against which they appeared "backward" on the basis of few shared traits. By 1949, the assumption was being implicitly made that "The Bay region shellmounds may, therefore, have been occupied by interior peoples and not visa versa" (Heizer 1949:39). This belief was based largely upon the concepts of culture-area and diffusion.

As a further example, when referring to the Windmiller Culture (the Early Horizon manifestation in the Lower Sacramento Valley), Beardsley wrote: "On the coast, except for traces at the bases of certain sites near San Francisco Bay, the remains of this hunting and gathering culture, with its elaborately ritualized burial practices, are yet undiscovered" (Beardsley 1948:20). Beardsley was specifically looking for Windmiller traits in the Bay region. He failed to adequately consider the "traces at the bases of certain sites" as evidence of a distinctly different culture existing at the same time in the Bay region.

Thus, an inherent weakness in the application of the Central California Taxonomic System was that adjacent cultures were not adequately considered on their own merits, but were interpreted in relation to the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence--and if there should be few shared traits the local culture was dismissed as being marginal or backward.

For the reasons outlined above, if there had been a distinct and separate culture in the Bay region at an early date, a culture with generally different origins, but which was related to the Lower Sacramento Valley cultures by trade and some general similarities in cultural and economic levels, the few shared characteristics would have been sufficient to warrant the interpretation that the Bay culture was but a marginal or backward area to the cultural climax of the Lower Sacramento Valley. As such, it would have been concluded that the Bay culture was not important to the understanding of Central California prehistory. These implicit assumptions, based largely upon the "climax" theory, thus led many archaeologists to misinterpret, until very recently, evidence of early cultures in the San Francisco Bay, the greater Monterey Bay region, the North Coast Ranges, and other areas of Central California.

Because of the assumptions upon which it is based, the Central California Taxonomic System has produced a model of divergence, of increasing differences through time. As Heizer has stated:

. . . we feel that the regional differences are not based simply upon different environments (e.g., littoral as against interior) but are, rather, divergences which, evolving through spatial separation of groups, resulted in regional subtypes [Heizer 1949:2].
Implicit within the statement were two assumptions. The first was that the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence was adequate to interpret adjacent sequences. The second assumption was that Central California cultures had a common ancestral culture in the past, as this is the only way in which they could diverge from each other, resulting in regional subtypes. The Early Horizon of the Lower Sacramento Valley (Windmiller Pattern or Windmiller Culture) was almost universally assumed to be the common ancestral culture by those relying on the Central California Taxonomic System.

A second major weakness of the Central California Taxonomic System was that in use temporal horizon markers and cultural horizon markers were often combined. As Beardsley wrote: "The time periods are called 'horizons,' because they are definable in terms of culture content, like the smaller units, and are cultural entities, not simply chronological or geographical divisions" (Beardsley 1954:7).

This same problem has persisted even in more recent research papers, such as Ragir's 1968 dissertation, in which she states "I have, therefore chosen to classify the temporal-cultural divisions defined by California archaeologists as cultures named after type sites or regions important in their discovery or early recognition" (Ragir 1972:12; emphasis omitted). The "Early Horizon" this became the "Windmiller Culture." This avoided the embarrassing situation of having to find names for horizons which were earlier than the Early Horizon, but still combined temporal and cultural units.

In order to avoid this problem, Fredrickson (1973:117) has proposed the use of the term "pattern" as an integrative concept to fulfill the cultural function of the horizon concept without its temporal implications. Fredrickson's model will be discussed in greater detail below.

Since its inception, a number of other problems have developed in applying the Central California Taxonomic System to archaeological assemblages from Central California. One of the greatest problems with this sequence is that it cannot successfully be applied to most parts of Central California (Kroeber's California Culture Province)! In spite of the years of changes, alterations, and modifications, this model and classification system has not been show to accurately apply to even the majority of archaeological data from Central California. Contrary to the assumption that this sequence is the key to understanding all of Central California prehistory, it appears to be best used as a local sequence, with coverage limited primarily to the Lower Sacramento Valley, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and some immediately adjacent regions. However, the system's applicability to some of these areas is also being questioned. Fredrickson, for example, points out that the distribution in time and space of extended burials:

. . . can be taken to support the argument that the culture history of the San Joaquin Valley differs significantly from the culture history of the Sacramento Valley and that a priori application of the lower Sacramento Valley three-part cultural sequence to all of Central California is not warranted [Fredrickson 1973:86].
As a further example, Bickel states:
A particular difficulty with extending the Valley scheme to the Bay area lies in the method of gravelot analysis by which the Valley periods were isolated and defined. Along the bay, graves accompanied by goods were the exception rather than the rule, and the quantity and variety of items recovered as grave goods was generally much smaller than that commonly found in gravelots in the Valley [Bickel 1976:14].
As a result of the lack of well established gravelots in the Bay region, Beardsley was forced to use a very limited sample in his 1946 analysis (cf. Beardsley 1948, 1954). From Emeryville, for example, only 119 of the 705 burials (16.88%) had associated artifacts, and of these, for one reason or another, only 48 (6.80%) could be included within Beardsley's analytical scheme (Beardsley 1954:88). Beardsley's solution to the problem leaned more toward "forcing" a fit between the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence and the Bay region, than in questioning the causes of the major differences in burial practices. The fact that the chief diagnostic tool for the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence was largely missing in the Bay region should have prompted a questioning of assumptions, but it did not (see also Bickel 1976:376-377).

A number of other major weaknesses in the Central California Taxonomic System has been pointed out by Gerow (1954, 1974a, 1974b; Gerow with Force 1968). In the University Village report, Gerow states:

Previous interpretations of culture and population change within Central California have employed a unilinear model of succession or development through time, with contemporaneous regional differences explainable in terms of local ecologic adjustments. We feel that a model of convergence is more compatible with the archaeological record.

. . . our central thesis [is] of two cultural traditions and populations in Central California at a relatively early date. The principal contrasts which we are able to define at the present time are between a generalized food collecting, fishing and hunting tradition associated with a metrically smaller, lower vaulted population, and a specialized hunting tradition associated with a metrically larger, higher vaulted population. We believe that the former is older in California and may reflect early Hokan speakers in contrast to the latter, who may have been Penutian speakers [Gerow with Force 1968:13].

This difference in physical form and economic mode has been substantiated in other studies (cf. Breschini 1979; Breschini and Haversat 1980a, 1980b). Gerow's convergence model will be discussed in greater detail later in this chapter.

Fredrickson has also presented evidence of more rather than fewer differences at a relatively early date. In his dissertation on the archaeology of the North Coast Ranges, he stated that:

The dating evidence from Central California leads to the conclusion that there was a considerable span of time when the Windmiller Pattern of the Lower Sacramento Valley, the Berkeley Pattern of the San Francisco Bay, and the Borax Lake Pattern of the North Coast Ranges were contemporaneous [Fredrickson 1973:235].
Since Fredrickson's research, a number of other Central California cultures have been identified which are contemporaneous with or earlier than the Windmiller Pattern. These include, among others, the Sur Pattern (in and around the Monterey Bay and on the Big Sur Coast) (Breschini and Haversat 1980a), and still largely undefined early cultures from Santa Cruz County and the Santa Clara Valley (Cartier 1980a, 1980b, 1981).

Not only was the assumption that the Lower Sacramento Valley sequence best represented Central California prehistory seriously in error, but the tunnel vision inherent in the application of the Central California Taxonomic System resulted in gross errors in the interpretation of relationships between cultures of the Lower Sacramento Valley and adjacent regions.

At present the Central California Taxonomic System, as it has been modified by Heizer (1949) and Beardsley (1948, 1954) must, by default, be regarded as the principal interpretive sequence in Central California. The use of the Central California Taxonomic System persists, although a number of serious problems have been found to exist in the assumptions upon which it based, and there have been severe weaknesses in the manner in which it has been applied.

In an attempt to correct some of these problems, a few researchers recently have proposed modification (cf. Bennyhoff 1961; Ragir 1972). During the past fifteen years, however, there has generally not been very much research directed toward updating and repairing the Central California Taxonomic System, although the process of change from model to model was clearly seen by Heizer, who in 1949 stated:

We are now abandoning our earlier, oversimplified classification of cultures by expanding them into what appear to be related intracultural groups. When this classification no longer serves, we shall abandon it in favor of one that permits inclusion of new data [Heizer 1949:2].
Recently, Fredrickson (1973:1-3) and others have called for a total revision of the model, but to date no modification or alternative classification scheme has achieved the necessary support to replace or supersede the Central California Taxonomic System, even though a number of the modifications which have been suggested by other researchers have passed into common usage. Most archaeologists currently appear to make use of those parts of the system which suit their needs, doing their best to ignore the inherent contradictions and weaknesses which underlie the entire construct.

Fredrickson (1973:22-25), in discussing the possible reasons for this, cites Rowe (1962), who states:

. . . archaeologists who adopt a system of complex stages as a framework for organizing their data usually do so at a very early stage in their research on the area involved. They have, perhaps, one good sequence, the units of which range from 300 to 500 years in length, and are wrestling with the problem of relating to it a number of isolated cultural units from other parts of the area. The units of the known sequence are too long to betray differences of a century or two in the appearance of new features, and the lack of other sequences for comparison eliminates the possibility of finding that the diagnostic features appear in a different order in different parts of the area. The inherent weaknesses of the method of using complex stages as a framework for interpretation appear only much later when the relative chronology can be made more precise and other local sequences are established. Unfortunately, by this time everyone is accustomed to thinking in terms of the traditional stages, and it is very difficult to give them up and start afresh with a more productive system [Rowe 1962:42].
The difficulty in changing from one widely accepted model or paradigm to another is also discussed in detail in Kuhn's work on the structure of scientific revolutions (1970). Kuhn's discussion is particularly relevant, given the current status of modeling in Central California prehistory.

What is really needed at this stage is a large-scale reevaluation of the basic assumptions upon which the Central California Taxonomic System has been based, leading to a complete revision of the entire system. As has been pointed out by Fredrickson (1973:2), Breschini and Haversat (1981:27), and others, a model of this kind can only be patched and repaired up to a point--beyond that point it is necessary to scrap the entire model, salvage what you can, and begin formulation of a new model.

To some degree, the process of replacing the Central California Taxonomic System has already begun. The first major criticisms of the model came as early as 1952 and 1952, even while the major modifications of the late 1940s, such as Beardsley's, were being published.

Gerow's Convergence Model

In 1952 and again in 1954, Gerow presented data and interpretations which ran contrary to the then thriving Central California Taxonomic System. For a number of reasons, some of which were unrelated to archaeology, Heizer and most of his coworkers were totally unreceptive to Gerow's proposals. For nearly 20 years they tried their best to totally ignore Gerow, his data, and his model. [This is a perfect example of Kuhn's (1970) model of the way in which science progresses from one paradigm to another, and of the tendency for some scientists who are deeply involved with an established paradigm to resist, often in spite of considerable evidence, any major changes in the old familiar models with which they have been working for years.]

Gerow's model evolved from the archaeological findings at University Village (CA-SMA-77), along the southern shores of the San Francisco Bay. Concerning these findings, Gerow stated that:

analysis of the data . . . led to the conclusion that the cultural assemblage at University Village was demonstrably earlier than any well-knit complex described in print for the Bay region. Equally important, these new data failed to harmonize in a number of fundamental points with current ideas of culture change, population change, and temporal relationships in Central California archaeology [Gerow with Force 1968:8].
Additional research led to the development of a model of "convergence," utilizing a set of assumptions which differed from those of the Central California Taxonomic System. This model provided a better explanatory tool for Central California prehistory, as it allowed interpretation of a number of points which could not successfully be explained by the Central California Taxonomic System. In addition, it correlated better with ethnographic data.

Gerow stated:

Since 1948 or earlier the San Francisco Bay has been viewed as a local marginal and impoverished manifestation of cultural succession or development in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region, with differences explainable in terms of local ecologic adjustments over a period of three to four thousand years [Heizer 1964]. The Central California Taxonomic System and its supporting typological criteria have gathered strength from this assumption.

The University Village complex is not explainable in terms of this assumption. Cultural and populational differences between the Bay and Delta regions were greater around 1500-1000 B.C. than later. Some of these differences extend beyond Central California and their interpretation requires a broader perspective than that provided by the stratified Windmiller site in the Delta region [Gerow with Force 1968:10].

In order to shed light on behavior patterns and cultural dynamics (stability and change), we have not hesitated to utilize the conclusions of ethnology, physical anthropology and linguistics. However, these are at a much higher level of abstraction and are not stressed in the present study . . . our central thesis [is] of two cultural traditions and populations in Central California at a relatively early date. The principal contrasts which we are able to define at the present time are between a generalized food collecting, fishing and hunting tradition associated with a metrically smaller, lower vaulted population, and a specialized hunting tradition associated with a metrically larger, higher vaulted population. We believe that the former is older in California, and may reflect early Hokan speakers in contrast to the latter, who may have been Penutian speakers [Gerow with Force 1968:13].

The details of Gerow's convergence model are contained in several papers and publications (including Gerow with Force 1968; Gerow 1954, 1974a, 1974b), and will not be repeated in great detail here. In general, where the Central California Taxonomic System predicted cultural development spreading outward from a central point (the Lower Sacramento Valley), and a differentiating through time, Gerow's convergence model predicted two initial populations, different during the "Early Horizon" but gradually converging through time. These he tentatively equated with the Hokan and Penutian language families.

Fredrickson's Periodization Model

In 1973 and 1974, Fredrickson presented a revision of the Central California Taxonomic System in which he incorporated a number of changes, including a system of spatial and cultural integrative units, modified from the framework presented by Willey and Phillips (1958) (Fredrickson 1974a).

The basis of Fredrickson's model is the separation of temporal, cultural, and spatial units from each other. For example, Fredrickson identifies four major chronological periods, and suggests that, for California, these periods can be ordered into a general chronological framework (Fredrickson 1973:113). These chronological periods have been designated as Early Lithic, Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Emergent. These periods constitute general temporal integrative units, and imply a general cultural level at a given time (see Tables 2 and 3). Fredrickson intended his temporal integrative units to be used only as general guides, as shown by his statement that "Although precise time boundaries between the periods will be subject to change, it seems less likely that radical change in the overall chronology will be necessary" (1973:113).

Table 2. Characteristics of California's Prehistory
(source: Fredrickson 1974a).

In addition to the temporal integrative units cited above, Fredrickson also proposed the use of cultural integrative units, including the terms component, assemblage, phase, aspect, and pattern. While most of these terms follow the usage of Willey and Phillips (1958), the terms pattern and aspect are newly defined. The pattern, for example, is an integrative concept that fulfills the cultural function of the horizon concept, but without its temporal implications (Fredrickson 1973:117). The aspect differs from McKern's (1939) usage in that it is a district integrative unit, consisting of a sequence of phases in a district (Fredrickson 1973:7, 99).

Finally, Fredrickson's spatial integrative units include the terms site, locality, district, region, area, and subarea (Fredrickson 1973:93-98). Most of these terms are based upon the usage of Willey and Phillips (1958), although there are some differences in their application to Central California.

Along with Gerow, Fredrickson (1973, 1974a) also has presented evidence of more rather than fewer differences at a relatively early date. In his dissertation on the archaeology of the North Coast Ranges, he states that:

The dating evidence from Central California leads to the conclusion that there was a considerable span of time when the Windmiller Pattern of the lower Sacramento Valley, the Berkeley Pattern of the San Francisco Bay, and the Borax Lake Pattern of the North Coast Ranges were contemporaneous [Fredrickson 1973:235].
To this list we can now add the Sur Pattern of the Monterey Bay area (Breschini and Haversat 1980a).

Concerning Fredrickson's proposals, Fritz and Smith have stated:

Fredrickson (1974a) proposes a scheme of periodization for Central California that emphasizes the changes in aspects of technological, subsistence, economic, social, and political behavior rather than changes in the inventory of artifact styles. Because it emphasizes patterns of behavior and interaction with artifacts and suggests that these patterns and artifacts contribute to the survival of human groups, this scheme implies that change can be understood in relation to changes in climate, technology, and the ethnic composition of Native American populations in Central California [Fritz and Smith 1978:17].
The scheme of periodization proposed by Fredrickson has been criticized by T.F. King (1974b), Gerow (1974b), and Fritz and Smith (1978). They suggest that Fredrickson's model does not accurately reflect the differences in human adaptation that are indicated in the archaeological record, that it does not aid the analysis of stability vs. change in behavioral systems, that it does not adequately allow for research on the local level, and that some of the typological, temporal, and technological relationships that are proposed between cultural patterns in Central California are inaccurate. In 1974, Fredrickson (1974b) replied to these criticisms, and for the most part, the issue is still far from settled. Fredrickson's scheme does illustrate the increasing use of the functionalist approach and the culture history of Central California as seen through that approach. It also separates the temporal, spatial, and cultural elements from each other, thus avoiding one of the most troublesome aspects of the Central California Taxonomic System.

Just as Gerow utilized data from ethnology, physical anthropology, and linguistics, Fredrickson states that:

It can now be suggested that the prehistoric periods of Kroeber [1923] and Klimek [1935] be re-examined in more detail with respect to forming hypotheses of what might be expected archaeologically in different regions at different times [Fredrickson 1974a:251].
Fredrickson's hypothesized characteristics of California's prehistoric periods are illustrated in Table 2, while Table 3 illustrates changes in consistent parameters which have been abstracted from Fredrickson's data by T.F. King (1974b:235).

Table 3. Changes in Consistent Parameters Abstracted from Fredrickson (1974a)
(source: T.F. King 1974b).

Procurement System
Exchange System
Social Organization
Upper EmergentUnspecified but presumably diversifiedIncreasing group orientation, developed networksNo change specified
Lower EmergentIntroduction of bow and arrow, maritime adaptation. Diversified hunting and gatheringIncrease in group-oriented exchange. Development of exchange networksDevelopment of organization centered on wealth and status ascription
Upper ArchaicNo change specifiedDevelopment of group-oriented exchangeInitial development of status-oriented organization
Middle ArchaicDiversified hunting and gathering. Beginning of acorn economyNo change specifiedNo change specified
Lower ArchaicGathering most important. Non-lacustrine (?)No change specifiedNo change specified
Paleo-IndianHunting probably most important. Lacustrine settlementsProbably individual exchangeUnspecified

King and Hickman's Model of
Increasing Cultural Complexity

An alternative way of looking at the prehistory of Central California has been utilized by T.F. King and Hickman (1973) and T.F. King (1972, 1974a). This model, which was advanced for the San Felipe area, located in the southern Santa Clara Valley to the south of the San Francisco Bay, had earlier been advanced in the form of comments on the evolution of cultural complexity in prehistoric California in general, and in the San Francisco Bay in particular (T.F. King 1970, 1972). This model suggests the following general progression:

1) Nonagricultural societies will become sedentary when a) the variety and seasonal availability of natural foods with the catchment of the occupational site are sufficiently great to obviate the need to travel from place to place to obtain food, or b) social interaction systems are sufficiently developed to move large quantities of food between villages. Other things being equal, sedentary village life will develop in areas where many food resources are available in all seasons.

2) When a hunter-gatherer society becomes sedentary, its population increases, because sedentism permits a relaxation of population-control systems. When the population reaches a level at which the carrying capacity of the local environment is approached, it becomes necessary for subpopulations to "bud off" and establish new communities.

3) The establishment of new communities in less rich and/or varied environments creates a stressful situation in which readaptation is selected for. Establishment of such communities on lands adjacent to or near those of the parent community (and of one another) creates a condition of social circumscription; under such a condition not only is stress between the growing populations likely to result in conflicts, but such conflict is likely to result in the development of hierarchical rank systems, both because conquered groups and individuals cannot be expelled but must be integrated into the dominant society as lower classes and because the need to be prepared for warfare selects for highly organized social systems.

4) An alternative or supplement to warfare as a means of reallocating resources is the development of trade systems among populations occupying varying and complementary environments. Such trade systems, like warfare, require considerable organization both within and between communities.

5) As organization increases, it becomes possible to widen the circle of interaction to take in more and more groups occupying more and more types of environments and exploiting more and more resources. The operation of the trade system makes possible the support of large sedentary populations in areas whose natural resources may be insufficiently rich, varied, or stable to support such populations by themselves [T.F. King and Hickman 1973:72-73].

Figure 2 illustrates the above processual model as a flow chart (adapted from T.F. King and Hickman 1973:74).

Figure 2. Organizational Trajectories of Hunter-Gatherer Societies
(source: T.F. King and Hickman 1973:74).

King and Hickman's "Northward Movement" Model

For many years, researchers in Central California have thought that connections between the Delta/Bay area in the north and the Channel Islands/Southern California area in the south should be found in the South Coast Ranges area (cf. Gerow 1974a). The prehistory of this area has been little known until quite recently, and in the absence of specific data, King and Hickman provided a series of general theoretical explanations for cultural transmissions during different periods. These are provided as a series of testable propositions ". . . about the possible forms of interaction that went on across the area in prehistoric times, and about the socio-economic concomitants of these kinds of interaction" (King and Hickman 1973:v-3).

The propositions or testable hypotheses which were cited by King and Hickman are as follows:

The Millingstone Horizon: 7000-4000 B.P.: The Millingstone Horizon is an early culture-complex on the southern California coast that contains abundant evidence of hard-seed processing. Some correlations between the Millingstone Horizon and early central California cultures have been recognized for some time, and the presence of a Millingstone-like complex on San Francisco Bay and in the North Coast Ranges is becoming increasingly apparent. How can we account for this broad similarity of ecological adaptation and specific tool-use?

As an initial hypothesis, we might propose that population increase in relatively sedentary villages on the southern California coast during the Millingstone Horizon might have resulted in progressive "budding" of sub-populations into the north, according to the same principles as those discussed [in the model of increasing cultural complexity cited above]. The appearance of "Millingstone" traits in central and northern California would be the result of this budding, and would presumably represent the first large-scale human occupation of the north part of the state.

If this proposition were correct, we should find that: a sequence of Millingstone sites on the central coast should show a progression from pioneering to established (sedentary) to overpopulated villages. Pioneer Millingstone sites on the central coast should be contemporaneous with the overpopulated sites in southern California and overpopulated sites on the central coast should be contemporaneous with pioneer sites in the north.

The characteristics we might expect of the three site-types alluded to above include:

Pioneer: Small population, many relatively "exotic" (i.e. nonlocal) tools, seasonal location shifts, poor adaptation to local specific resources.

Established: Large population, much and efficient use of local resources, relatively permanent occupation.

Overpopulated: Large populations, possible imbalance in age-sex ratios among mortuary populations, possible evidence of violence, evidence of considerable energy expenditure for low return (acquisition of hard-to-get, low energy foods).

As an alternative, we can posit that for as far back in prehistory as we are very likely to be able to look, there were Millingstone sites along most of the California coast, and that the rise in sea level connected with the melting of the Wisconsin glaciers--which continued until approximately the present level was reached about 5,000 years ago, forced abandonment of old sites and occupation of new inland locations. This process would occur differentially between southern and central California, because of the greater width of the continental shelf along the central California coast relative to the south coast, particularly in the Santa Monica Mountains area where most dated early Millingstone sites have been reported (Bickel, Jackson, and King 1973) [see also Bickel 1978]. Thus southern California Millingstone sites would appear more substantial and would tend to be earlier than would such sites along the central California coast, but this disparity would be a function of differential coastal inundation rather than south-to-north population movements. If this hypothesis is correct, we would expect that fairly well-adapted Millingstone villages would appear rather suddenly on the central coast at the time when the sea level approaches its present stand.

The Middle Horizon: 4000-1500 B.P.: The Middle Horizon is a time of considerable culture-change in both the north and south, but the nature of this change is difficult to generalize about. The establishment of many new villages in new portions of the state suggests population dispersal, but the size and apparent organization of some Middle Horizon villages suggests nucleation. An expansion of trade is indicated by the widespread dispersal of obsidian from the various eastern and northern California sources, and of shell beads from the coast into the interior, but there is also evidence of considerable specificity in the adaptation of local populations to local environments. Mortuary populations show evidence of both widespread violence and complex political organization.

To place these apparent changes in an interpretive framework, we can propose that the Middle Horizon represents a period when maritime/littoral adaptation along the California coast permitted and impelled a large-scale population increase in sedentary coastal villages, culminating in periodic population pushes into the interior. Populations moving into the new environments would have been under pressure to experiment with methods of readaptation, to interact with other groups, and to maintain trade and other ties with the coastal villages. This process, described in detail [in the model of increasing cultural complexity, above] may be responsible for the Middle Horizon as we know it.

If this reconstruction is accurate, we should find on the central coast that the Middle Horizon is a time of large, centralized village formation. There should be evidence of the use of many environmental niches, and there should be considerable evidence of contact--amical and enmical--with the interior.

The Protohistoric: 1500-400 B.P.: During the protohistoric period in northern and southern California, there is evidence for rapid socio-economic change. The clam disc bead economy appears, and clam discs are adopted as currency across broad parts of the north, while in the south a proliferation of Olivella money beads occurs. There are suggestions of shifts in coast-interior trade patterns; for example, the use of obsidian from the east of the Sierra Nevada drops sharply in the Chumash area after the Middle Horizon.

A possible means of accounting for these changes is to propose that, in some major parts of the state at least, the protohistoric period is one of social breakdown, in which inflation and individual economic initiative characterizes the socio-economic system. This breakdown might have been impelled by an insupportable imbalance between population and resources resulting from an adoption of subsistence strategies (such as trade itself) that permitted further population growth during and after the Middle Horizon, rather than establishing equilibrium.

If this proposition were to hold on the central coast, during the protohistoric we should find evidence of egalitarian-type social institutions such as age-grades, sex-specific societies, etc. rather than hierarchical organizations. There should also be evidence of the disintegration of large organized groups, reflected in the denucleation of the settlement system and a tendency for community and mortuary organization to become less structured [King and Hickman 1973:V-3-V-5].

There is still disagreement over the "Millingstone Horizon" concept as it applies to parts of Central California and to Northern California. While there are sites in Northern California which contain milling stones, there has yet to be a clear connection established between these and the well-defined "Millingstone Horizon" of Southern California (cf. Wallace 1955), although attempts have been made to establish this connection. For example, one recent study (True, Baumhoff, and Hellen 1979) details a number of sites in Northern California which contain milling stones. True, Baumhoff, and Hellen state:
The question arises . . . as to whether the people of the Milling Stone Horizon were present in Northern California only in very small numbers, if at all, or on the other hand, whether they were present but that their remains are less known for one reason or another.

Our data favor the hypothesis that they were present but are less known [True, Baumhoff, and Hellen 1979:124].

True, Baumhoff, and Hellen conclude that "we believe the Milling Stone Horizon represents a single group of people with substantially similar culture who essentially filled up (in some sense) the are now covered by the State of California in the period from 6000 to 3000 B.C. (1979:153).

Initial research in the South Coast Ranges suggests, however, that this somewhat mountainous area might have served as a partial barrier to north-south cultural transmission, especially along the coast. Accordingly, some evidence connecting the Southern and the hypothesized Northern California Milling Stone cultures might be found in the interior valleys, rather than along the coast as King and Hickman's model of northward movement has suggested.

In summary, it is apparent that the current status of archaeological classification in Central California is, in many respects, in limbo. Other than the Central California Taxonomic System, there is no single model now being widely used by, and providing guidance to, practitioners of Central California archaeology. In fact, there are few researchers dealing with models of Central California prehistory at all, and as a result, little of the archaeological material which is being discovered is being evaluated in terms of regional contexts. Most of the recent "contract archaeology," especially that conducted on a small scale, is purely descriptive at best. For the most part, Central California archaeology is progressing with little direction or guidance from modeling research, and as a result is not nearly as productive, efficient, or informative as might otherwise be the case. Happily, there are some notable exceptions.


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