VENTURA, Calif. — A project to rehabilitate a 19th century ranch house on one of the Channel Islands off Southern California has led to the discovery of another ancient Native American site in the archipelago, the National Park Service said Tuesday.
Archaeologists discovered stone tools representative of early North American Paleoindians when the main house at the historic Vail & Vicker Ranch on Santa Rosa Island was lifted for construction of a new foundation.
The tools, described as barbed points and crescents, were used for hunting and fishing in the islands, five of which comprise Channel Islands National Park.
“The northern Channel Islands have one of the largest and most significant clusters of early coastal sites in the Americas with more than 100 sites over 7,500 years old,” Jon Erlandson, a University of Oregon expert on ancient coastal archaeology, said in a statement. “We suspect the site is at least 10,000 years old, with evidence of some of the earliest people on the West Coast, the first Americans.”
Scientists believe the ancient sites may be evidence of a coastal migration around the North Pacific Rim from northeast Asia to the Americas, the park service said.
Santa Rosa Island is also the site of the 1959 discovery of the so-called Arlington Man, human remains that were subsequently dated to 13,000 years ago and may be the oldest found in North America.
The house where the newly discovered tools were found was constructed sometime after 1869 on a sheep and cattle ranch that operated for more than 150 years.
The rehabilitation, which will turn it into island visitor lodging, has been suspended for the archaeological investigation in conjunction with the Chumash people, Native Americans who historically lived along the central and southern coast of California and on several of the Channel Islands.
Test excavations are being made near the ranch house to determine the extent of ancient deposits.
Channel Islands National Park is headquartered on the mainland in Ventura, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Santa Rosa is the second-largest of the islands, stretching nearly 15 miles (24 kilometers) long and 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide.
On the internet: https://www.nps.gov/chis/index.htm