I first visited Santa Cruz Island in 1966, while still a graduate student at UCLA.  My doctoral committee chair, James N. Hill, and I carried out a wide-ranging reconnaissance on the island in order to become generally familiar with the abundant and diverse archaeological resources of the island.  The University of California‚Äôs field station on the island was established that year, and Jim and I were among its first visitors.

My interest in the time period centering around 6,000 years ago began in the early 1980s, when I located and recorded several small sites on western Santa Cruz Island whose deposits contained unusual quantities of red abalone shells.  The shells of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) are quite large, often more than eight inches long, and even though shells of other species, particularly California mussel, are more abundant, the red abalone shells in the archaeological deposits are quite conspicuous.  Because of their distinctive appearance as a result of containing red abalone shells, I called them red abalone middens.  These middens were a product of collecting and eating red abalone and other shellfish and discarding their shells at their habitation sites.  The middens also contain bones of fish and sea mammals, but these generally are in small quantities. Click on the sidebar topics to learn more about my research.

1966 photo

Touring Santa Cruz Island in 1966. I'm the hatless one.

red ab shell

A red abalone shell from a midden


428 profile

Buried red abalone midden exposed along seacliff