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.

February 8, 2018

Dennis R. Gallegos

First People—A Revised Chronology for San Diego County

Dennis Gallegos at Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

This presentation provides a review of the earliest sites in San Diego County and identifies potential sites and areas for First People. Fresh water, not always available in the desert, was always available in San Diego County and provided the magnet for continuous occupation throughout the Holocene. Native American occupation was affected by environmental change which included sea level rise, sand transport, health of lagoons, and the creation of San Diego Bay and Lake Cahuilla. The hypotheses of First People by land and/or by sea, along with continuous occupation and environmental change are all part of this 12,000 year history.

Dennis R. Gallegos is a long-time San Diego archaeologist, beginning his career in 1969.  He has worked for State Parks, BLM, and multiple private sector companies.  He is currently president of the Cultural Resource Management firm Gallegos & Associates. Publications by Mr. Gallegos or with others include: Cultural Resource Inventory of the Central Mojave and Colorado Desert Regions; Management Plan for Otay Mesa; Review and Synthesis of Environmental and Cultural Material for the Batiquitos Lagoon Region; Patterns and Implications of Coastal Settlement in San Diego County: 9000 to 1300 Years Ago; Environmental Change and Coastal Adaptation in San Diego County; Five Thousand Years of Maritime Subsistence at Ballast Point; Antiquity and Adaptation at Agua Hedionda; Southern California in Transition: Late Holocene Occupation; and Archaeology in America, San Diego Area.

 March 8, 2018 

John Michael Rafter

Coyote Hole Canyon Surpises


Coyote Hole Canyon is located near Joshua Tree Village, California, near the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. The approximately 3,000 foot long canyon stretches from south to north, and rock art can be found on its east and west sides on granitic boulders. Coyote Hole is the name of the natural tank at the south end of the canyon. The rock art was initially recorded in 1975 by Daniel McCarthy and the late Delcie Vuncannon. McCarthy and his team of volunteers accomplished a complete recording in 2016. 


John Rafter was first introduced to Coyote Hole Canyon and its rock art in 1990 by the late Wilson G. Turner, although their focus was on the area surrounding the mouth of the canyon. It was Delcie Vuncannon of nearby Yucca Valley who enlisted his help in investigating the rock art throughout the whole canyon from 1993 to 1996.  It was during his study there that he encountered several surprises involving the rock art, the likes of which he has not seen elsewhere. Mr. Rafter reported evidence of the canyon's several rock art alignments with significant solar events at the San Diego Rock Art Symposium in 2016 and 2017. The alignments involved both direct and indirect observations, which include unique sunlight and shadow interactions with rock art. Additional findings made between 2015 and 2017 revealed more solar alignments, and one such alignment appears to have been observed by someone or some group as recently as 2017. The apparent theme of some of the rock art and their alignments with the sun may also have ethnographic support.


John Rafter has been interested in the study of rock art since 1975 when he was introduced to it by the late Eugene Shepard, an avocational archaeologist for the San Bernardino County Museum, who continued to take him to rock art sites until his passing in 1989. During this time, the late Wilson G. Turner also took Mr. Rafter under his wings to further educate him in the study of rock art. He became Mr. Turner’s assistant field director in the Black Canyon rock art recording project, funded by Earthwatch, and he used his artistic talents to properly record the canyon’s rock art. Other rock art researchers, such as the late Arda Haenszel of San Bernardino and Delci Vuncannon of Yucca Valley, contributed to Mr. Rafter’s growing knowledge of rock art and geoglyphs. Ultimately, his study of rock art merged with his interest in archaeoastronomy, which then led him to sites he found to have astronomical connections in areas once occupied by the Luiseño and the Chemehuevi. This also led him to a fortuitous meeting with the late Carobeth Laird, author of The Chemeheuvis. Mrs. Laird, formerly the wife of John Peabody Harrington and later married her Chemehuevi informant, George Laird, took it upon herself to teach Mr. Rafter much of the Chemehuevi language and lore. After her passing in 1983, he inherited over 3,500 pages of her ethnographic notes that contained rare information on the Chemehuevi’s vast knowledge of astronomy. Mr. Rafter has organized these important bits of information into book form which is presently being reviewed by Dr. E. C. Krupp of the Griffith Observatory, one of the foremost researcher in the field of archaeoastronomy. Since 1981, John has been invited by Ken Hedges to be one of the lecturers at the San Diego Rock Art symposium, all on the subject of his many archaeoastronomical findings.

April 19, 2018

Don Liponi

La Rumorosa Rock Art


May 10, 2018

Dr. James S. Kus

What’s New in Machu Picchu?