PCAS General Meetings

Monthly lecture meetings feature noted archaeologists and anthropologists who provide insight into a variety of topics. Lecture meetings are held at the Irvine Ranch Water District Community Room, 15500 Sand Canyon Avenue (between the I-5 and I-405) in Irvine, on the second Thursday of each month, at 7:30 pm. Meetings are free and open to the public. See vicinity and detail maps of PCAS meeting location. For additional directions, please call Scott Findlay, 714-342-2534.

Please Note: The Irvine Ranch Water District neither supports nor endorses the cause nor activities of organizations which use the district’s meeting rooms that are made available as a public service.

You are invited to join the speaker and PCAS members for dinner before the general meeting. It's an informal opportunity to visit with an acknowledged expert. We meet at 6:00 pm at a local restaurant. Please check the newsletter (left menu) for location.

Schedule and Speakers

Please note that last minute changes may occur.

November 8, 2018
Dr. René L. Vellanoweth
Ancient Droughts, Fires, and Floods: Living with the Elements in the Santa Monica Mountains


Dr. Vellanowith in Baja California.


The Santa Monica Mountains were home to many important natural resources and landscape features critical to human survival and spiritual sustenance. The ancestors of the modern Chumash and Gabrielino people lived in the mountain’s drainages and flood plains, carved out intricate trail systems, and utilized its steep slopes and ridges to harvest edible and medicinal plants, hunt game, and perform rituals. Adjacent open and protected coastlines offered a bounty of marine resources and provided access to the outside world. Life in the mountains, however, was not always easy as evidence of protracted droughts, devastating fires, and massive floods document settlement/abandonment cycles linked to naturally occurring and periodic episodes of destruction. In the following talk I will share the results of recent surveys and excavations in the western Santa Monica Mountains conducted by California State University, Los Angeles, California State Parks, and the National Park Service. These data suggest that people relied on local terrestrial and marine foods, manufactured beads and other ornaments, traded for obsidian, fused shale, and other toolstones, and distributed their settlement to take advantage of freshwater, seasonal resources, viewsheds, and proximity to trail networks.


René Vellanoweth is Professor of Archaeology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). Before arriving at CSULA in 2008, he taught for seven years at Humboldt State University, located in northern California. Vellanoweth earned academic degrees from the University of Oregon (PhD), CSULA (MA), and the University of California, Los Angeles (BA). Recently appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, Vellanoweth will serve a four-year term on the California State Historical Resources Commission. His research interests include coastal and island archaeology, historical ecology, environmental archaeology, field methods, and the use of integrative approaches to understand the past. Vellanoweth has over 25 years of experience conducting archaeological investigations across western North America, particularly coastal and island southern California and Baja California, Mexico. He has published widely on diverse topics in the fields of archaeology, history, and ecology.  

December 13, 2018
  Holiday Dinner at the Duck Club. See Flyer.

Steve Freers

Rock Art of the Grand Canyon Region — Expanding our Understanding

Steve Freers will present an overview of approximately 5,000 years of Native American rock art painted and engraved on the canyon walls and boulders within the greater Grand Canyon region, an area stretching south from the Arizona-Utah border to the Mogollon Rim. The presentation will expand upon the research presented by his fellow authors in their book Rock Art of the Grand Canyon Region. New discoveries continue to be made, as well as greater appreciation of the more subtle expressions at well-know localities. The audience will be taken on a behind-the-scenes journey to vicariously experience the awe of hiking within magnificent canyon systems, negotiating rugged and steep trails, and discovery of ancient human presence. Steve hopes to impart not just the sense of adventurous research, but a closer understanding of the integration of such a powerful environment and its influence on the aboriginal artists who painted or carved the Grand Canyon’s ancient art.

Steve Freers is an IB and Honors chemistry teacher at Temescal Canyon High School, Lake Elsinore, California. Avocationally, he has spent the past thirty years researching Native American rock art in Riverside and San Diego counties, as well as concentrated studies in the Grand Canyon region. In 1994, he co-authored the book Fading Images on rock art in western Riverside County and served for five years as the senior editor for the American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA). In May of 2013, the results of an extensive rock art recording project in Grand Canyon National Park culminated in a 288-page book entitled Rock Art of the Grand Canyon Region by Don Christensen, Jerry Dickey, and Steve Freers.

Steve’s specialty is taking a physical anthropological approach to rock art research. Using anthropometric data collected by the famous anthropologist Franz Boas in the late 1800s and early 1900s, he modified a regression equation that assists in predicting the physical stature and gender of the makers of prehistoric handprints. His most recent research explores rock art along the Takic and Yuman ethnographic division in southern California, as well as examining the chronological sequence of petroglyph creation at a newly recorded Colorado Desert site. As an avid hiker and photographer, Steve has been able to capture the dynamic context of archaeological sites in the Southwest’s most remote areas.

The Arizona Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission awarded Mr. Freers and his co- authors the 2014 Arizona Governor’s Award for Special Achievement in Public Archaeology for their book and the over 10,000 volunteer hours documenting archaeological sites for public agencies. In 2016, Mr. Freers was awarded the Crabtree Award by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) for his outstanding contributions to the field of archaeology, cultural heritage preservation, and public education. Steve currently serves as the program and conservation chair for the San Diego Rock Art Association (SDRAA) and continues to conduct field work in northern San Diego County.

January 10, 2019

Dr. Patricia Martz

Advocacy for Preservation

The California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance, Inc. (CCRPA) was formed in 1998 and incorporated as a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit charitable organization in 2003. Our mission is to protect and preserve cultural resources including archaeological sites, historic sites, sacred sites, and traditional cultural places in southern California with a focus on Orange and Los Angeles Counties. CCRPA formed in response to accelerating development, especially in coastal California, and the continuing loss of a number of significant archaeological sites including coastal villages and cemeteries in Orange County.

Dr. Martz received her BA from California State University, Long Beach and her Ph.D. from UC Riverside. Her archaeological research focuses on the pre-contact cultures of southern California and how and why they achieved a high level of cultural complexity within a hunting and gathering economy. She has conducted archaeological investigations in California for over 40 years.


Currently she is founder and president of the California Cultural Resource Preservation Alliance (CCRPA), a nonprofit organization of archaeologists, concerned citizens, historians, and Native Americans working together to promote the protection and preservation of cultural sites. CCRPA was founded 1998 with Lillian Robles, a Juaneno/Acjachemen elder who has since passed.


Dr. Martz is Professor Emerita Department of Anthropology, California State University, Los Angeles, where she taught for 20 years. As professor of archaeology, she was Principal Investigator for the San Nicolas Island Archaeological Research Program, a grant funded research program designed to place the US Navy in compliance with Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The research program provided archaeological field training, research and publication opportunities, and jobs for students underrepresented in archaeology.


Dr. Martz served as Prehistoric Archaeologist for the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) for six years. During that time, she served as Chairperson of the Commission and Chairperson of the State Historical Resources Commission Curation Committee. Under her leadership, this Committee produced the State Curation Guidelines. She also was Co-Chair of the California Preservation Task Force Subcommittee on Archaeology. This committee was charged with identifying the major problems present in California archaeology, recommending solutions, and producing a final document which was published in the 1997 Comprehensive Statewide Historic Preservation Plan for California.


Dr. Martz was the first archaeologist hired by the Los Angeles District US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and served as Senior Archaeologist for 13 years. The COE constructs flood control projects and other water related infrastructure. She started as a graduate student and was convinced that she would have to resign because her professor called the COE the “Corpse of Engineers” because they dammed all the major rivers. As an employee, she was given a stack of historic preservation laws and regulations and was told to “tell us what we need to do to be in compliance.” A major achievement was the preservation of a major rock art site and the construction of a cultural interpretive center near Phoenix, Arizona.

February 14, 2019

George Kline and Martín Jespersen

Dos Palmas Sites