Enculturating environments: the archaeology of interior south-central California

David W. Robinson with Fraser Sturt, University of Southampton

This project investigates hunter/gatherer practices from initial colonization of Western North America, throughout subsequent prehistory, to Euro-American colonial encounters, working within the under researched interior of South-Central California in the San Emidgio Hills. Our aim is to understand social relationships played out between people and landscape, seen in the enculturation of the environment through rock-art, other forms of material culture, inhabitation, and land-use. Previous research includes detailing a landscape biography of the San Emigdio Hills, the use of indigenous minerals in paint and other substances, and analyzing the complex land-use patterns of this interior region as it relates to maritime groups of coastal California. Ongoing research includes:

  • Excavating rock-art and other sites
  • Geo-archaeology of site and landform morphology
  • Digital scanning/survey of rock-art and cave sites
  • Analyses of organic materials and mtDNA lineage


Robinson, DW. 2007. Taking the Bight Out of Complexity: Elaborating South-Central California Interior Landscapes, pp 183-204. In Sheila Kohrning and Stephanie Wynne-Jones (editors) Socialising Complexity: Structure, Integration, and Power. Oxbow: Oxford.

Robinson, DW. 2006. Landscape, taskscape, and indigenous perception: the rock-art of South-Central California. PhD Thesis, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge.

Robinson, DW. 2004. The Mirror of the Sun: Surface, Mineral Applications, and Interface in California Rock Art, pp 91-106. In N. Boivin and M-A. Owoc (eds), Soils, Stones and Symbols: archaeological and anthropological perspectives on the mineral world. University College London Press: London (PDF document).

Robinson, DW. 2004. Tierra Incognita: rock art, landscape biography, and archaeological blind-spots – a case study from South-Central California. American Indian Rock Art 30, 43-56. (PDF document)

Further links

Enculturating Environments (.pdf, 1.36MB)