California History, Anthropology, and Archaeology

California missions aligned to the rising solstice sun?
New research suggests some California missions are aligned to solar events, such as solstices.

I'm a bit skeptical myself. It's long been common to align churches east-west. And in the days before electricity, practical considerations necessitated taking lighting into account when building any structure. The fact that some of the missions are not aligned according to solstices further suggests (to me, anyway) that they're just lined up east-west. Though some archaeologists have argued that solstices were important in the lives of many Native Californian groups, and it seems not unlikely that the Church would try to harness that energy, so to speak. It would be nice to see more intensive research -- to see if there are historical records, for example, which might prove the missionaries took the solstice into account. Perhaps that information can be found in Prof. Mendoza's scholarly papers.

X-posted to archaeological, cahistory, and catholicism.

Rock Art lecture
In Banning, on July 20, Britt Wilson will speak about rock art in the deserts of southern California. Here are the details.

"He was standing exactly three feet to the left of the flagpole."

Yesterday, while scouting locations for people to stay during our upcoming wedding, my fiancee and I stumbled across a place important to the history of both California and the United States. We'd pulled into Oak Knoll Campground, on Sate Highway 76 east of Pauma Valley and near La Jolla Indian Reservation. The campground is on the lower slopes of Mount Palomar, site of the famous observatory. Somehow the name didn't register with me until we'd gone inside the clubhouse, where teenagers were playing pool. There, tacked to the wall, were posters and news articles related to George Adamski: It was here that he claimed to have studied his UFOs.

Adamski was one of the foremost UFOlogists of the 1950s, and in his books, such as Flying Saucers Have Landed and Inside the Flying Saucers, he describes first how he observed the flying ships and later how he met Orthon, a Venusian, and later people from other planets, who gave him spiritual knowledge. Before being a UFO guru, Adamski had established an order of Tibetan Lamas in Los Angeles.

There's not much for the UFOlogist to see at the Campground these days. I'd read in the paper at one point that they planned on building a small museum to Adamski, but nothing seems to have been done and I think the place has changed owners since then. We met one of the owners and his son nineteen-year-old Skyler, who manages the place and seems to be quite the salesman already. They've done extensive renovations (and are doing more), and have installed some very nice cabins. They also seem interested in keeping the Adamski story alive. "We haven't had a chance to meet him yet," Skyler told us, though we told him a couple of times he'd been dead many years. "He's not dead, he's just gone home -- like Elvis," his father chuckled. A paperback copy of Flying Saucers Have Landed sat on their table, which Skyler told us he'd just started reading. Earlier, he'd taken us out to see the exact spot where it supposedly all began. "He was standing exactly three feet to the left of the flagpole when he saw the first ship," we were told.

Thursday: Archaeology in Jordan orientation session
Not exactly California archaeology, but archaeology by Californians . . .

Ever wanted to dig up a 3,000-year-old Middle Eastern fortress? Now's your chance . . .

The University of California, San Diego's Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project is returning to the field for the fall quarter. Anyone with a good attitude -- any college, any major -- can attend. There's an orientation session this Thursday. If you can't make it to the orientation meeting but wish to be added to the email list, reply to this post and I'll see that you're added.



Location: Sixth College Dogghouse (Located just East of Gilman Parking Structure)

Order of Events

A suggested program for the evening.

5:00 Eat & Mingle
5:15 Welcome – Ebonee Williams
5:20 Introduction to the Program – Thomas Levy
5:35 Student & Grad Student Perspectives on the Experience from Program Alum
5:45 Practicum Intro – How Sixth students can apply this program.
5:50 Question & Answer

Southern California Archaeology lecture April 7
For those in the area, the Coachella Valley Archaeological Society will host a lecture on the archaeology of Coyote Canyon, Anza Borego State Park on April 7 in Cathedral City, California. Follow the link for more info.

The lone woman of San Nicolas
This story is rather old, but quite interesting:

Eighteen years of solitude: The lone woman of San Nicolas Island

About Juana Maria, the Nicoleño woman left behind on San Nicolas when the rest of her tribe -- the last six others who hadn't been massacred by Inuit seal hunters in the employ of the Russians -- were brought to Mission Santa Barbara. An interesting article, primarily because I knew very little about the case beforehand. Just about the entire second page could be done without. (Psychologists say being abandoned and stuck alone for 20 years on an island is hard? No shit!) It also shows remarkable ignorance of the state of the missions at the time. You could have called the missionaries heartless if this had taken place in 1815, but not in 1835. In 1835 the missions were struggling for their lives -- a struggle they would lose fast. At that time most of the missionaries were viewed with hostility by the Mexican State who saw them as agents of Spain, and every day they expected to be deported. Fr. Antonio Peyri, the head of the missions, had already been deported several years earlier, despite taking an oath of fealty to Mexico and begging for the missions. It was already a year after the missions had been secularized, and Pico was already dividing up the mission lands among his cronies. If the missionaries invested the money to hire a ship in 1835 to bring a handful of Indians to the mainland, it was a feat of generosity, because the missions were no longer allowed to possess lands on which the Indians could work! This article ignores two possibilities about why no second mission was undertaken to San Nicolas: 1) Juana Maria ran away and they decided it was her choice to live on the island and 2) It was too damn expensive for the missions, who were having their wealth seized, to pay for another ship to go out there. Judge whether the missionaries were misguided based on their actions and their intents, rather than jumping to conclusions out of ignorance.


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