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“California Archaeology Month 2012: The Pleistocene-Holocene Interface ca. 10,000 BC” is a mixed media piece, selected by the  Society for California Archaeology for this year’s official Archaeology Month poster.

I show a specific CA environment changing through time, from the late Pleistocene in the background, transitioning to the Holocene in the foreground, with human footprints leading away from the stressed environment. My submission included a first draft of the artwork and a list of references from scientific journals and publications*. To even begin illustrating a climatic event impacting the people of early California, I had to focus on a specific area and time, and chose the dramatic climate warming shift of the late Pleistocene to early Holocene, roughly 10,000 years ago, in the Eastern Sierra region (similar in some ways to the Great Basin). I was conservative with the flora and fauna– camels, deer, pinon-juniper woodland transitioning to desert scrub, (vs the Columbian mammoth or sequoia). I sketched from many plant database photographs, and took pictures of footprints… the first draft, then, was without any guidance from scientists. Changes included putting actual humans with spears in the scene, and I was pointed in the right direction: paleoindians, bearing spears with large Clovis points. (Thank you for editing, Dr Michael Newland) Mixed media: I scanned a textured watercolor background (colors with sediment like burnt sienna, ultramarine; salt…) and painted the scene in Photoshop using brushes and layers of various opacities. I created the layout in InDesign.

*Some notes and references from my proposal:

“I concentrated on published findings of flora and fauna from the period, including: Late Pleistocene flora to 11,000 BP was xeric woodland: Utah juniper and singleleaf pinyon, understory: jointfir, rabbitrush, shadscale (Grayson, Donald K. The Great Basin: A Natural Prehistory. University of California Press, 2011: page 158). Not included in preliminary sketch, but possible to add: giant sequoia in the Pleistocene, on Eastern side (O.K. Davis. “Pollen analysis of a late glacial and Holocene sediment core from Mono Lake.” Quaternary Research. Vol 52(2): 243-249, September 1999.)   Appearance of Mojave desert understory species, ca 13,500 years BP disappearance of Utah juniper after 9000 BP (Koehler. “Late Pleistocene Mollusks from the Dolomite Site, Owens Lake Playa, California.” The Veliger 38(4): 312-318, October 1995). Sagebrush steppe, including Artemisia and Chenopodium, replaced juniper woodland, evidence of warming and drying trend found through pollen study (Mensing, S.A. “Late-Glacial and Early Holocene Vegetation and Climate Change near Owens Lake, Eastern California.” Quaternary Research, Vol 55(1): 57-65, January 2001. Late Pleistocene megafauna: I included some of the “conservative” possibilities (camels, deer) and considered others, such as mammoths (Mammuthus sp) and horses (Equus sp) as discussed in several papers which cite: Jefferson, G.T.  Late Pleistocene and earliest Holocene fossil localities and vertebrate taxa from the western Mojave Desert. The West-central Mojave Desert: Quaternary Studies between Kramer and Afton Canyon. San Bernardino County Museum Association, 1989: pages 24-40.”

-and for paleoindian Clovis points: “California Archaeology” by Michael J. Moratto

Media: watercolor, digital