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Society for California Archaeology

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Bennyhoff - current years winner(s)

John R. Johnson, Ph.D.
Curator Emeritus of Anthropology
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Santa Barbara Coastal Prehistory: Refining Chronology and Updating Descriptions of Important Collections


Archaeological assemblages resulting from investigations beginning a century ago are curated at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and have long served as the type collections for understanding prehistoric cultural chronology and changes in Chumash socioeconomic organization. Such research was of particular interest to James Bennyhoff. Many of these museum collections were obtained from prehistoric cemetery excavations and were repatriated under NAGPRA in 2021-2022. Previous bioarchaeological studies estimated age and sex for most individuals from the prehistoric cemeteries, but additional observations were recorded prior to repatriation. All associated funerary objects were photographed, including rare and unique examples of material culture. What remains to be accomplished is to pull together and synthesize all these descriptive data, including radiocarbon dates obtained in recent years. By undertaking this effort, a more nuanced picture of socioeconomic patterns will be possible.

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