NHPA Mapp California's Obsidian Trail

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) was a turning point in the history of archaeology in the United States.  This law required that the implementation of any project using federal funds or involving a federal permit take into account the project’s effects on historic places, including archaeological sites. 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NHPA, American archaeologists worked together to produce a series of short films, each one representing a particular state, highlighting the gains in our understanding of the lives of our forebears that would not have come about without that law.

In the shadow of Mt. Whitney lies California’s Owens Valley, the deepest valley in North America.  Its contrasting environments include snow-capped spires, desert valleys, volcanic moonscapes, and verdant marshlands.  Archaeologists for thirty years have recorded petroglyphs, pottery, and bone, wood, and stone tools, piecing together the lifeways of the region’s original inhabitants.  With advances in analysis of obsidian (black volcanic glass), they are re-examining what ancient arrowheads, points and flakes can reveal and are learning some surprising things.

Produced in 2016 by Cinnabar Video

Copyright 2016 by Davis Community Media; Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc.; and Society for California Archaeology

Web links:

California Archaeology (California State Parks)

Cinnabar Video

Davis Media Access

Far Western Anthropological Research Group

The Obsidian Trail (The Archaeology Channel)

International Association for Obsidian Studies

Society for California Archaeology

17 min 27 sec
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