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.

October 18, 2018 (Third Thursday of October)
Dr. Joan Schneider
Purple Hummingbird: A Biography of Elizabeth Campbell

Dr. Joan Schneider will discuss the biography of Elizabeth Campbell, Purple Hummingbird, which she co-authored with Dr. Claude N. Warren. Elizabeth Campbell was an early archaeologist in the California desert and hypothesized that prehistoric people had lived along the shores of late Pleistocene lakes and streams much earlier than was then believed. Her interpretations were dismissed by the formally trained archaeologists of the day and only later widely accepted by the archaeological community.


Dr. Schneider received her MS and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside, after a career change from the health sciences (She has BS and Master of Public Health degrees from Columbia University in New York City). Her archaeological research focuses on the reasons why prehistoric peoples (particularly women) chose certain stones for tools and vessels and how the stones chosen related to the tasks performed or uses of the artifacts.


Dr. Schneider has worked for 30+ years in arid regions of the world, including the Colorado, Mojave, Sonoran, Negev, and Gobi deserts. As a Principal Investigator, she has conducted projects in Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, as well being an Archaeological Field School Director for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in Joshua Tree. (This is particularly important in light of the subject of this talk). She was Associate State Archaeologist in the Colorado Desert District from 2001 to 2011 and remains a member of Colorado Desert Archaeological Society. At present, she is Consulting Archaeologist for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (Serrano) in Highland, California.  In this capacity she works closely with Native American governments and individuals, government agencies, and private corporations on many projects. She has contributed articles to regional, national, and international professional publications.

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

Steve Freers

Rock Art of the Grand Canyon Region — Expanding our Understanding