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History and Behavioral Ecology during the Middle-Late Transition on the Central California Coast: Findings from the Coon Creek Site (CA-SLO-9), San Luis Obispo County

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eScholarship - University of California
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Abstract

As the focus of intense debate concerning the possible effects of environmental variability on Native populations, the Middle-Late Transition (MLT) is an exceptionally important period in California prehistory. Recent salvage excavations at the Coon Creek Site (CA-SLO-9) on the San Luis Obispo County coast revealed a single, highly discrete component dating cal A.D. 900-1300 which is largely synchronous with most definitions of the MLT. With a recovery volume of 23.2 cubic meters, this is the first component to yield artifact and faunal assemblages substantive enough to establish the culture historical markers for this period in this region, and to define corresponding subsistence and technological patterns. Artifacts from a proposed Coon Creek Phase show a blend of Middle and Late Period cultural traits (with a heavier contribution from the former) as well as some unique MLT diagnostics Faunal remains suggest a landscape in which foragers exploited robust invertebrate populations, cormorants, sea otters, and rabbits, and "de-intensified" their fishing practices, all of which imply an organization of labor different from that of previous periods.

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