Archeological Investigations at Buena Vista Lake, Kern Country

Archeological Investigations at Buena Vista Lake, Kern Country

Archeological Investigations at Buena Vista Lake, Kern Country

Archeological Investigations at Buena Vista Lake, Kern Country

Excerpt

The excavations described in this paper comprised one of a number of archeological projects organized and financed by the Civil Works Administration in December 1933, as a means of reducing unemployment. To the Smithsonian Institution was given the task of selecting suitable sites, providing professional direction, and supervising the work so as to obtain a maximum of scientific information. As with the other similar projects, choice of a suitable location in California was contingent primarily on climatic and economic factors, i. e., upon mild winter conditions and proximity to abundant unemployed labor. Kern County, an important oil-producing region at the extreme south end of the San Joaquin Valley, met both these requirements. Moreover, it has long been known that aboriginal village and burial sites abound on the margins of the lakes and sloughs which formerly occupied a considerable portion of the valley floor in the southern part of the county. Some of the largest and most promising of these on the westerly and northwesterly shores of Buena Vista Lake were readily accessible by automobile to relief labor from several towns in the Sunset-Midway oilfield. Two large shell heaps on the southwest side of the lake, which seemed likely to yield a considerable depth of archeological deposits, were accordingly selected as the scene of operations.

Excavations began on December 20, 1933, and were continued as a Federal project until February 15, 1934. With considerable reduction in manpower, it was thereafter carried on as a county project, terminating on March 31. The Smithsonian Institution placed Dr. W. D. Strong and W. M. Walker, both of the Bureau of American Ethnology, in charge of the work as director and assistant director, respectively. On these two men rested the burden of administering the project in the field and of determining local policies. Actual excavation was supervised by two assistant archeologists: E. F. Walker, of the Southwest . . .

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