“The Archaeology of Tehachapi”

Presented by archaeologist, Catherine Lewis Pruitt, Saturday, June 11, 2011 at the Historic Train Depot in downtown Tehachapi.

Catherine discussed the Native American Ma’a’Puts and her personal re-examination of an early and largely-abandoned excavation (dating back to 1970). This re-examination resulted in virtually no written site records or artifact catalogs, but somehow the originally excavated artifacts suddenly surfaced, sparking Catherine’s interest. Her in-depth examination and excavation in 1985 & 1986 became the material for her Master’s Thesis.

Catherine described the area as covering 80 acres, mostly at the base of foothills, following 3 ridges. This area was at the confluence of 2 streams, an ideal location for a habitation site. Associated with the artifacts and features found in the area were caves with pictographs, beads (from the original 1970 excavation), bedrock mortars, and house rings.

In the course of the 1986 excavation, excavations were conducted at 2 house rings, and a human burial was located at when the field team began excavating between the two house rings. Unfortunately, the human burial was discovered on the last field day, so no further excavation was done on the humans remains, besides photo-documentation.

Catherine’s lecture was supplemented with numerous personal photographs taken on the site. She also brought sample artifacts, including some representative beads from the 1970 excavation.

Catherine has been conducting archaeological investigations for over 15 years. She earned both her BA and MA in Anthropology at CSU, Bakersfield. She currently works out of Bakersfield, California and is a partner in the CRM firm, Three Girls and a Shovel.

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