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Archaeological Overview of
Point Reyes National Seashore &
Golden Gate National Recreation Area

As a part of the Archaeological Overview and Assessment for the Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, under a cooperative agreement between Sonoma State University and the National Park Service, the ASC has produced several overviews of research issues—or general archaeological research designs—to aid in management of archaeological resources in the PRNS-GGNRA parklands. The geographic scope of the study area is relatively vast, extending over 108 miles of coastline—from northern Marin County in the north into northern San Mateo County in the south. Changes in coastline around Point ReyesThese overviews are necessarily general, as they are intended for use with all known and anticipated archaeological resources in the PRNS and GGNRA, an area of approximately 182,496 acres, of which only 6,000 acres have been intensively surveyed. The presentation of research issues in these overviews will assist managers and archaeologists in developing specific research designs for individual properties or specific land units as the need arises.

While these overviews are presented here as a single, edited volume, each is designed to be printed out separately as a standalone document if desired. Each overview is listed below, along with a general statement of the topic and the name and credentials of the author.

Click a file name to open a PDF of the chapter*. You will need the free Adobe Reader® to open the file.

*If the file does not open when you click its title, try right-clicking and selecting "Save Target As" (Windows). Save the file to your desktop (or anywhere on your hard drive) and open it from there.

Table of Contents for Entire Report

toc.pdf (337 KB)


Part I
An Overview of Research Issues for Geoarchaeology in the PRNS-GGNRA

by Jack Meyer

This overview takes a geoarchaeological landscape approach that incorporates human ecology, landscape evolution, and soil formation. With a focus on landforms available to human beings in the past, including buried features, it offers a new perspective on the current archaeological database. Geoarchaeological research issues that can be addressed by parkland resources are provided, along with their data requirements.

overview1.pdf (2.36 MB - Large File!!!)



Part II
An Overview of Research Issues for Indigenous Archaeology in the PRNS-GGNRA

by Suzanne B. Stewart

This overview discusses the evolution of research designs for prehistoric archaeology in California, and reviews local research designs and their uses. It then describes and evaluates past indigenous (prehistoric and historic Native American) archaeological research on various topics—such as chronology, settlement, social organization, and culture change—offering a discussion of research issues and data requirements for each topic. The last section brings together the research issues and data requirements for all topics to aid in developing specific research designs. (The study for indigenous archaeology had a more ambitious scope of work than the other overviews, which were conducted under modifications to the original project statement—hence its greater size.)

overview2.pdf (1.68 MB)


Part III
An Overview of Research Issues for Historical Archaeology in the PRNS-GGNRA

by Annita Waghorn

This overview describes the legal context for archaeological research and enumerates the property types that are known or anticipated in the study area. Research issues and data requirements are provided for selected research themes that pertain to Spanish-colonial/Mexican-period and American-period urban and rural archaeological resources. A review of property types and research efforts related to the dairy industry (a dominant theme in the late-19th and early- to mid- 20th century on the Point Reyes peninsula) is provided in an appendix prepared by Christina MacDonald, CRM graduate student and archaeological specialist at the ASC.

overview3.pdf (1.06 MB)


Part IV
An Overview of Research Issues for Maritime Resources in the PRNS–GGNRA

by Robert G. Douglass

This overview looks at the history of the study area as it relates to human interaction with the sea, and reviews the major archaeological studies that have been conducted over the years to increase our knowledge and understanding of these local maritime activities. In order to establish a context for research, it examines current general directions in maritime archaeology and presents some relevant examples of recent activities within the discipline. The overview also suggests an organizational framework for parkland maritime resources, consisting of a range of physical property types and historical contexts that can be combined to describe most maritime properties likely to be encountered in the GGNRA and PRNS. Finally, it proposes some research questions and areas for potential study, and makes specific recommendations for future treatment of the maritime properties of the parklands.

overview4.pdf (274 KB)