Skip to main content

WEST—Field representative Linsie Lafayette visited three preserves in central and southern California last month: Lannan Ranch, Fairmont Butte, and Jay T. Last Archaeological Preserves. Together, they possess aspects of food processing, tool procurement, and ceremony.

Lannan Ranch Archaeological Preserve is a pre-contact Tataviam village site. In total, 39 bedrock mortars and cupule rocks have been recorded, indicating the area’s importance for food processing and ceremony. The preserve was donated to the Conservancy in 1998 by Belva Lannan. Pierce College conducted a field school there from 2004 to 2007, which located the bed-rock mortars and cupule rocks and defined the site’s boundaries.

Nearby Fairmont Butte Archaeological Preserve was a rhyolite toolstone quarry for thousands of years, and there is
evidence of later use as a plant-processing location, indicated by the presence of bedrock mortars. Previous excavations located steatite, shell, and bone beads; ground stone; projectile points; and a bone awl. Evidence of off-road vehicles and illegal dumping have been found in the past, but the site was free of garbage on this visit. Campfire rings and indications that a small fire possibly spread from one of the rings was observed. The preserve lies on the edges of both the Fernandeño Tataviam and Serrano ancestral territories in Los Angeles County, California. It was acquired by The Archaeological Conservancy in 2006.

Western Field Representative Linsie Lafayette snaps a selfie with a turtle pictograph under a low overhang at Jay T. Last Archaeological Preserve.
Photo Credit: Linsie Lafayette, The Archaeological Conservancy

Jay T. Last Archaeological Preserve in the foothills of the western Sierra Nevada between the cities of Fresno and Bakersfield, contains the remnants of a Southern Valley Yokut Village. It contains bedrock mortars and cupule rocks estimated to be 2,000 years old. Hundreds of pictographs depicting bears, turtles, and hunters, are tucked into overhangs and small rockshelters. The area is considered sacred to the Yokuts, who occasionally perform ceremonies there. A large boulder outside the entrance has been Conservancy site visits are critical to proper upkeep, preservation vandalized, but inside the property fencing, all features remain intact. Cows roam the preserve to keep the grass short, lessening the threat of wildfire.