Old bones: a link to California’s past

Near the Fremont BART train station there is a place scientists call CA-ALA-343.
When the body of a Meganos “indian’’ was buried there around 1200 BCE (before common era), Moses was leading the Jews out of Egypt and the Olmecs were settling into Mexico.
Over the past three decades of study, scientists have concluded that CA-ALA-343 had been a settlement continuously for more than 3,000 years.
From the time humans first set eyes on California, they must have been in love with the place.
”As the real estate people say, it’s location, location, location,” said Andrew Galvan, an archaeological consultant working alongside developers as they build shopping centers, condos, apartments and underground garages on and about CA-ALA-343.
So far, more than 100 grave sites have been found. Many are Ohlone, the new kids on the block, and the more ancient Meganos.
”They are the people my ancestors kicked out,” laughed Galvan, an Ohlone, as large, yellow bulldozers chewed at the earth. Colored ribbons on pickets marked the spots of likely graves.

Galvan laughs at the historic coincidence – Fremont, a suburb on San Francisco Bay, building a new downtown directly over the ancient site.
”This is the original downtown,” he said. ”Nothing changes but the players.”
Scientists know that humans have ranged up and down California for at least 15,000 years and probably a lot longer.
California has always attracted immigrants.
Wrote anthropologists Michael Coe, Dean Snow and Elizabeth Benson in their ”Atlas of Ancient America:”
”As is still the case today, California attracted and accommodated immigrants of many backgrounds. There was an unusual number of separate language families. Indians from diverse backgrounds adapted in small groups to an equally diverse environmental mosaic. The result by the end of prehistory was a complex series of about 500 small tribal organizations which varied widely in speech, subsistence, technology, religion and social organization.”
These ancient peoples were like us in another way, too.
”Political leadership in California was usually in the hands of the local big man. He was often a wealthy individual who held the loyalty of his community by distributing that wealth through the kin-based society he led, whether as bribes, charity or the sponsorship of feasts and religious celebrations,” the anthropologists wrote.
The Meganos probably arrived in the Fremont area 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, but they were not the first known inhabitants. Already here were people whose remains date as far back as 7,000 years.
The oldest human remains in California date back 13,000 years.
The Bay Area of the Meganos and Ohlone was different. The water of San Francisco Bay covered the land where the modern city was built. CA-ALA-343 would have been on the shore of the Bay.
In addition to finding remains, scientists have unearthed chipped stone tools, mortars and pestles, shell beads and bone pendants, hearths and the remains of dinner — snails, oysters, ducks, geese, deer and elk.
By all accounts, California was a thriving, wealthy place long used to newcomers and change, including the development of industries that brought new wealth and new ways.
The archaeological evidence is that a major change occurred in central California around 4,000 years ago when the Indians evolved from foragers and collectors with no storage, to seed and acorn processing and storage. They became specialists in foods and materials and began to trade with one another.
Today we call these people Indians, a word brought by the exploration of Christopher Columbus who thought the people of the Americans were Asian Indians.
He may not have been entirely wrong.
The Los Angeles Times reported that human remains found on a Southern California island dated back 13,000 years.
One of the possibilities scientists are looking at is that some ancient immigrants might have met landfall after sea journeys from as far away as South Asia — and present-day India.


About drockstroh

See http://newsaigonsanjose.blogspot.com/e
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