ARF Newsletter 1993 v1-2

Berkeley Archaeology

The Archaeological Research Facility Newsletter
Fall 1993 - Vol 1-2


U.C. Field School on Kaua'i

Peter Mills

ElisabethBeginning in the summer of 1993, the Archaeological Research Facility (ARF) joined a collaborative effort with Hawaii State Parks, Kaua'i Community College, the Koke'e Natural History Museum, and Kaua'i West Main Street Organization to investigate Russian Fort Elisabeth on the Island of Kaua'i in the Hawaiian Islands. This site is providing the opportunity for ARF faculty members Kent G. Lightfoot and Patrick V. Kirch to combine their primary fields of expertise. Eighteen undergraduates and seven graduate support staff were lucky enough to have both professors assist in a field school that ran for five weeks in June and July. Berkeley graduate student Peter Mills directed the school. The fieldwork is planned to continue in the summer of 1994.

Fort Elisabeth was built in 1816 (four years after the settlement of Russian Fort Ross in California) when Dr. Georg Anton Schaffer of the Russian-American Company signed an agreement with Kaumuali'i, the paramount chief of Kaua'i, to assist Kaumuali'i in conquering adjacent islands and protecting the sovereignty of Kaua'i. In return, the Russian-American Company was granted a monopoly in the sandalwood trade on Kaua'i. The plan failed and within two years Schaffer and his contingent of employees (mostly native Alaskan) had left Kaua'i. Historical records suggest that the fort was occupied by native Hawaiians through the 1850s and was dismantled of its armaments in 1864. What remains on the surface today are the collapsed stone walls of the fort and several stone foundations in the fort interior. No detailed draw-ings of the fort are known to exist prior to 1884 and historical data on the use of the fort are relatively limited. It is known that Kaumuali'i's chiefly compound and the home of the first Christian missionaries on Kaua'i (1820) were once directly outside the fort walls. Recent sugar cultivation has obliterated most surface remains outside the fort.

The fort and the surrounding 17.5 acres now form a state historical park that has a restroom, parking lot, coral paths, and one sign to orient visitors to the site. The state has drafted a master plan for improving these interpretive displays. This plan hinges on further archaeological and historical investigation which is being provided by two seasons of U.C. Berkeley field schools. Research goals parallel those at Fort Ross, focusing on the dynamics of a multi-ethnic community and culture change in the early historical period. Unlike Fort Ross and other Russian-American Company sites in the North Pacific, this settlement was established within a highly stratified chiefdom that may have changed the dynamics of the culture-contact.

The fieldwork is being conducted in two stages. The goal of the first field season was to investigate areas of the fort exterior that are expected to have included Kaumuali'i's compound, the missionary homestead, and the reported location of a Russian trading-post. In addition, limited underwater survey was conducted of a stone wharf in the Waimea River adjacent to the fort. The underwater work was completed under the guidance of Jim Allan from U.C. Berkeley's Institute for Western Maritime Archaeology.

As usual, results of the first season's fieldwork provided many more questions than answers. Students worked doggedly in very compact sediments and extreme heat only to encounter a paucity of midden from test units surrounding the fort, suggesting that domestic activity outside the fort was limited. In the expected location of Kaumuali'i's compound, coastal midden was encountered that contained some early historical ceramics as well as cannonball fragments. Coral mortar, glass beads, and iron fragments were uncovered in the area of the missionary house, but no foundations were identified.

Underwater work helped map the construction techniques of the stone wharf and also identified a possible cavern entrance that has been purposely blocked with rubble. Many present day residents of Waimea relate that it used to be possible to swim into such a cavern and come up inside the fort. Another unexpected discovery above the water level was the identification of a crawl-space tunnel built through the fort's stone wall.

The second stage of fieldwork will focus on the fort interior which contains numerous stone foundations, one cellar hole, and a large foundation for a flagpole among other miscellaneous features. Since the Russian-American Company was only at the fort for two years and Hawaiians used the fort for nearly half a century, the majority of cultural material within the fort (and outside) is expected to reflect how this site was incorporated into Hawaiian culture after the Russian-American Company left. How this "Russian fort" was actually used, why it was built, and why it was located where it is may in fact reflect as much about native Hawaiian cultural agendas as it does about European expansionism.


From the Director

P.V. Kirch

As I write these remarks, the fall semester at Berkeley is well underway, and it is clear that the Archaeological Research Facility (ARF) continues to be active on several fronts. Our faculty associates and affiliated graduate students returned from field projects around the globe with reports of successful surveys and excavations, in many cases made possible or enhanced by a series of grants-in-aid from our new Stahl Endowment Fund. Two major projects, the U. C. Berkeley Archaeological Field School and Prof. Meg Conkey's survey for paleolithic sites in southern France, are reported in more detail elsewhere in this newsletter.

In the area of publications, another monograph in the ARF Contributions series has been issued, and two more monographs are in preparation. The latest monograph, reporting on a 3,000-year-long occupation sequence in the Samoan Islands, excavated by your Director, brings a new face to our venerable publication series, with a color cover. We have also expanded and computerized our mailing and distribution lists for publications, taken out our first advertisement in a professional journal, and are actively soliciting orders from major university libraries throughout the country.

Extramural funding for archaeological research through the ARF has also increased significantly over the past few months. Especially notable are three major grants from the National Science Foundation. These include a grant to Prof. Conkey for her French paleolithic survey, a continuation grant to Prof. Kent Lightfoot for the Fort Ross Project, and a grant for the renovation of the undergraduate archaeology teaching laboratory.


Paleolithic Site Survey in the French Pyrenees

The Mid-Pyrenees area of southern France is well known for its cave art and cave habitation sites dating to the Magdalenian period, ca. 15-11,000 years ago-Niaux, Les Trois Frères, Le Mas d'Azil, and others. In fact, some of the most recent pioneering work on the archaeology of painted caves has been done here, such as pigment compositional analyses and some of the first direct dating (using AMS) of the paintings themselves. Little is known, however, about the ways in which the "Magdalenians" used the regional landscape outside of the caves, and the wider social geographies within which art-making and art-using flourished are poorly understood.

With funding from the Stahl Endowment and the National Science Foundation (Anthropology Exploratory Research Grant #SBR 931370), and with permissions from the Conseil Superieur de la Recherche Archeologique and the Service Regional de l'Archeologie des Mid-Pyrenees, Professor Meg Conkey coordinated a three-week survey in June and July 1993 to explore systematically both the possibilities for locating open air sites and the feasibility for systematic survey in the higher altitudes (ca. 600-800+ meters) where there are several known Magdalenian cave sites. She was joined in the field by geographer and Archaeological Research Facility Associate, Dr. Les Rowntree, and by their French collaborator, Dr. Valerie Andrieu (Lab. de Botanique Historique et Palynologique, Marseille). Dr. Andrieu has located several important paleolakes for coring that have and can yield valuable paleoclimatic information for the region during "Magdalenian times." Future cores are expected to include paleoentomological (fossil insect) data as well.

In addition to the systematic survey of selected transects in the region, Conkey and Rowntree mapped current agricultural land use to assess future accessibility to archaeological remains in plowed fields. Systematic survey at thirty-two selected plowed locations (mostly corn and sunflower fields) yielded (at more than eight locations) distinctive Upper Paleolithic (blade industry) stone artifacts, and human-modified flint, as well as samples of various types of flint raw material. While Conkey notes that it is premature to call any of these locations "sites," she feels that the finds certainly warrant returning to the region for a longer and more labor-intensive survey season, hopefully in 1994.


Undergraduate Archaeology Teaching Laboratory Renovated

Over the past few months, a major renovation and upgrading of the undergraduate archaeology teaching laboratory at Berkeley has been taking place, under the supervision of Prof. Patrick Kirch. The teaching lab, first developed some years ago by Profs. Glynn Issac and Desmond Clark as a part of the Washburn Anthropology Labs in the Hearst Gym basement, had gradually become outdated and in serious need of improvement. While consisting of a large, well-lighted space, the lab lacked any computer equipment and contained only a few outmoded microscopes, a situation that did not permit the teaching of modern analytical methods in archaeology.

Complete renovation of the laboratory and the purchase of much needed new computer and analytical equipment were made possible by a recent grant of $40,462 from the National Science Foundation's Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Program, generously matched with $60,000 in funds from the Willie G. Willard Endowment and other sources through the Office of the Provost for Research.

Prof. Kirch, who developed the proposal to NSF's Instrumentation Program, noted that a key aspect of the project is the construction of fifteen student workstations, each station equipped with a 386 PC running state-of-the-art database software, a Leitz stereozoom microscope for examining archaeological specimens, and a Mettler digital balance for weighing artifacts. The computers are linked in a local area network, so that student and faculty-developed archaeological databases can be shared.

Other items available to the students are digital calipers, Munsell color charts, and hardness kits. The shared equipment being installed includes a thin-section saw, geological sieves (for sediment grain size analyses), and drying ovens.

Fifteen undergraduates can now work simultaneously on advanced research projects with such materials as prehistoric ceramics, lithics, and faunal materials. Courses using the lab, such as Anthro 132 Analysis of Archaeological Materials currently being taught by Prof. Kirch, will also routinely draw upon the vast archae-ological collections of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology for student projects. In the current class students are developing individual research projects based upon the ex-tensive collections obtained during Prof. E. W. Gifford's pioneering excavations in the Fiji Islands in 1947.