Bibliographic Information

Foundations of Chumash complexity

edited by Jeanne E. Arnold

(Perspectives in California archaeology, v. 7)

Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, c2004

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Papers presented at a symposium held in conjunction with the annual Society for American Archaeology Meeting in Denver in 2002

Description and Table of Contents


This volume highlights the latest research on the foundations of sociopolitical complexity in coastal California. The populous maritime societies of southern California, particularly the groups known collectively as the Chumash, have gone largely unrecognised as prototypical complex hunter-gatherers, only recently beginning to emerge from the shadow of their more celebrated counterparts on the Northwest Coast of North America. While Northwest cultures are renowned for such complex institutions as ceremonial potlatches, slavery, cedar plank-house villages, and rich artistic traditions, the Chumash are increasingly recognised as complex hunter-gatherers with a different set of organisational characteristics: ascribed chiefly leadership, a strong maritime economy based on oceangoing canoes, an integrative ceremonial system, and intensive and highly specialised craft production activities. Chumash sites provide some of the most robust data on these subjects available in the Americas. Contributors present stimulating new analyses of household and village organisation, ceremonial specialists, craft specialisations and settlement data, cultural transmission processes, bead manufacturing practices, watercraft, and the acquisition of prized marine species.

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