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Research Collections

Below are descriptions of four different collections housed in the Anthropology department at CSUSB. Used as both teaching and research collections, students in the CSUSB Applied Archaeology MA program, as well as undergraduate Anthropology majors, use these collections to learn about the rich culture history of southern California from Dr. Amy Gusick and about the diversity of Mesoamerica from Dr. Guy Hepp. Material from these collections is available for student research projects. Additionally, the Anthropology department has working relationships with various museums and repositories in the region and many of our students have focused their thesis research on collections held at these locales.

Agua Santa Collection

The Agua Santa site is located on Santa Cruz Island and represents one of the few large mounded habitation sites found on the island. Located near to the historic Chumash village of L’akayamu, habitation at Agua Santa spanned a 1500-year time period, from the Middle Period (2600-700 BP) into the Late Period (700-200 BP). Excavations in the 1980s and then again by CSUSB students in 2016 produced thousands of artifacts typical of the large Late Holocene habitation sites found on the western section of the island. With at least 16 house depressions identified on the site, some spanning 10 meters in diameter, the Agua Santa site is interpreted to be a location where the Chumash lived year round and manufactured beads primarily from purple olive snail shells (Callianax biplicata).

Hunter’s Ridge Collection

This collection consists of prehistoric and historic artifacts originating from the San Sevaine Creek area within the boundaries of the City of Fontana in San Bernardino County, California. Cultural resource management efforts were prompted by the development of the Hunter’s Ridge housing development and the San Sevaine Creek Water Project. Subsequent survey and data recovery, including excavation, revealed one prehistoric site and three historic sites which were all deemed potentially eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The prehistoric site consisted of numerous flaked and ground stone artifacts indicating repeated periods of seasonal habitation during the Middle Holocene from 5000 to 6000 years ago with sourced obsidian flakes indicating strong ties to the trade networks crossing the Mojave Desert. The historic aspect of this collection begins in 1872 with a land purchase by Thomas Hawker and expands from 1874 to 1891 with the introduction of the Sansevain family, including brothers Jean Louis and Pierre “Don Pedro” who ran the Sansevain Bros. Vineyards and Winery. At one point, this winery was the largest producer of wine in California, including an award winning Claret. Later historical development would include a saw mill, a quarry and lime kiln, and assorted structures and features from residential, farming, and ranching activities.

Silver Lake Collection

The prehistoric Silver Lake site is located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains and includes circular house pit features, thermal features, and bedrock mortars. Extensive looting damaged the site's features and most of the surface artifacts recognizable to the general public were taken. In an attempt to preserve data from the site during the 1970s, a professor from CSUSB and his students were granted an Antiquities Act permit from the U.S. Department of Interior to excavate the site. Though heavily looted, the CSUSB team were able to salvage data from the site including the numerous artifacts that helped provide information on habitation within the region.

Vester Collection

Donated to CSUSB in 2008, the Vester Collection includes a wide variety of Mesoamerican artifacts and related documents, along with a few reproductions, that were collected in the 1940s and 1950s from areas such as highland Oaxaca and Central Mexico. Items in the collection with research potential include stone tools, ceramic spindle whorls (a tool for making textiles), and Formative period (2000 BCE – 250 CE) ceramic figurines. Also included are architectural elements, portions of statues, items of personal adornment, and musical instruments. Many of the artifacts in the Vester Collection show Classic period (250–900 CE) Teotihuacán and Postclassic (900–1521 CE) Aztec or Toltec influence. These artifacts represent a unique educational opportunity for students interested in Mesoamerica.