Lost Valley 10,000 BC
The history of Lost Valley goes back . . . way back; back so far back there are no written records. There were people in Lost Valley as far back as 8,000 to 12,000 years ago.
How do we know that these peoples were in Lost Valley if they left no written records? They left artifacts like arrow straighteners and pendants. Lost Valley had an active archeological dig site behind the Grace Archery Range near Shingle Springs. This area is off limits to all camp visitors because of its sensitive nature, but fortunately, some of the artifacts can be viewed in the display cases in Beckman Hall. The archeological digs were conducted by the Anthropology Department of San Diego State University from 1997 to 2003, under the supervision of Dr. Larry L. Leach. The Lost Valley staff would like to give our thanks to George E. Kline of San Diego State University for providing some of the material for this page.
The Shingle Springs area turned out to be seasonal village site, with evidence of structures, hearths, milling stations, body jewelry, ground stone artifacts, middens (trash dumps), pottery, and tools made from stone and bone. Some of the material found dates back more than 5,000 years.
While digging deeper, the archaeologists made an unexpected discovery – an obsidian point around 10,000 years old! This find pushes the native history of Lost Valley back far beyond the Cupeño people into Pleistocene Era, also known as the last Ice Age.
What was Lost Valley like in 10,000 B.C.? We may never know the full picture, but careful study of the artifacts found here can give us a glimpse into that past.
The Lost Valley Fluted Point was excavated in 2002 at the Shingle Springs Dig Site. The point was discovered by Victoria Kline and researched by her husband, George E. Kline, of San Diego State University. It is estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000 years old, which dates it from around 10,000 to 6,000 B.C. The point is chipped from obsidian that originated from Lookout Mountain, near Mammoth Lakes, and had to travel over 340 miles to reach Lost Valley. The point has traces of Cervidae blood, which comes from animals like deer, elk, and moose. That means that early inhabitants of Lost Valley used it for hunting. So we know that there were hunters in Lost Valley over 8,000 years ago.
To find out more about the history of this Fluted Point, read George E. Kline’s article: Fluted Point Recovered from San Diego County Excavation (PDF). This is another article on the Lost Valley Fluted Point in the San Diego Weekly Reader: The 8,000 B.C. Deerhunter (PDF).
These other artifacts come from more recent history, around 100-500 years ago, when the Cupeño people and their neighbors visited Lost Valley.
Arrow Shaft Straightener
Here is an arrow-shaft straightener from the excavations near Shingle Springs. This artifact is made of quartzite, which was shaped using stone tools. To straighten arrow-shafts, the arrow maker or “fletcher” would heat the stone in a fire and place the arrow-shaft in the groove. The fletcher would then apply a downward pressure and rotate the arrow-shaft as he pulled it through the groove to straighten and smooth the shaft. The heat of the stone would soften the wood for easier shaping. A straight, smooth shaft meant an arrow that flew straight to its target. These straighteners were once an important tool for Indian hunters.
This is an Incised Pendant that appears to be formed from stream pebble. The holes were drilled using a stone drill made from either quartz or chert. The vertical lines were probably made with a stone tool made from some harder material. The pendant is a metamorphic igneous stone, possibly from an extinct volcano near Santiago Peak on the edge of Orange County.
This stone is a Zoomorph, or animal shape; it appears to be from the same type of stone as the Incised Pendant shown above. The hole was probably made with a similar quartz drill. The animal could be a bird or turtle, only the person who made might have known for sure. This zoomorph is similar to others made by the Kumeyaay people that inhabited what is now Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in San Diego County.
This artifact is known as a Punctate Pendant. It has a number of shallow holes drilled into that weakened the pendant enough to cause it to crack. These “microcupules” (shallow drill holes) are different on each side. On one side there are two horizontal rows of nine holes each; while on the opposite side, they are vertical, and arranged in five rows numbering from left to right; five, four, five, five, and six, for a total of 25 holes. The exact meaning of this arrangement is still unknown.