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Quite the World, Isn't It?

Ancient times on the Channel Islands

I spent a day back in December out on Santa Cruz Island with Jennifer Perry, an anthropology professor at Pomona College, for a profile piece for Pomona Magazine. It was a lot of fun -- she's very bright, and very engaged with the history of the Chumash tribe, whom her research (and that of others) suggests served a role as something of a banker for pre-Columbian trade along the Central California coast.

Santa Cruz is the largest of the Channel Islands at 98 square miles, and has been a lot of things over the years, including a ranch. Now owned by the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy, a visit here is a wonderful experience in roughing it. Camping is limited and rudimentary, there are no services, and if you miss the ferry you're stuck until the next day.

What I enjoyed most, though, was listening to Perry talk about the clues in the landscape as she walked along the blufftop, and then inland a bit. What was a pile of loose rock to my eye were, to Perry, the leftovers from of ancient mining, and she poked into the rock piles to pull out the evidence -- chipped stones and discarded tools for splintering the old chert, a kind of flint, into usable sharp edges.

Give the piece a read, and let me know what you think...

Photo of Jennifer Perry by Steve Osman/Pro Photography Network.
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