The Portuguese Bench site is a prehistoric village nestled on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in southeastern California. The site contains an extensive midden deposit that was excavated from 1983 to 1986 by a UCLA field school under the direction of David Whitley. Researchers have also found fire hearths, living surfaces, possible storage pits, a petroglyph panel, stone tools, and other artifacts.

Using obsidian hydration and diagnostic projectile points, researchers have concluded the village was occupied on and off from roughly 3,000 to 800 years ago. The site lies near Sugarloaf Mountain, an important obsidian quarry. The large quantities of manufacturing debris indicate the obsidian was brought to the site, where projectile points and knives were fashioned.

Site: Portuguese Bench

Culture: Coso Shoshone (1000 B.C. to A.D. 1200)

Status: The site is threatened by development.

Acquisition: The Conservancy needs to raise $135,000 to purchase the property and fence and stabilize the site.

How you can help: Please donate to the Portuguese Bench Archaeological Site at


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