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.

The Irvine Ranch Water District neither supports nor endorses the causes or activities of organizations

that use the District’s meeting rooms which are made available for public use.

PCAS Zoom Meetings  


March 9, 2023

In-Person and Zoom Meeting (Speaker will not be present at the in-person meeting.)

Dr. Edward J. Knell

Paleoindian Land Use at Pluvial Lake Mojave in California’s Mojave Desert

Fluctuations in the extent and productivity of wetland habitat around Great Basin/Mojave Desert pluvial lakes influenced Paleoindian land use strategies. Paleoindians responded to resource fluctuations using a “wetland transient” land use strategy represented by frequent moves between pluvial lakes or a “wetland stable” strategy characterized by comparatively long stays at resource hotspots. To assess the optimal Paleoindian land use strategy around pluvial Lake Mojave—today’s Silver and Soda Lake playas—I and colleagues create a biotic resource structure-based and optimal foraging theory inspired land use model that predicts the conditions Paleoindians at Lake Mojave optimally should select a wetland stable land use strategy (when Lake Mojave supported substantial wetland habitat and was thus a high-rank resource patch) versus a wetland transient strategy (when Lake Mojave supported limited wetland habitat and was thus a low-rank resource patch). The model ultimately predicts that Paleoindians occupied Lake Mojave at a time of reduced wetland habitat or low patch rank, resulting in a wetland transient land use strategy being the optimal land use solution; the amount of wetland habitat and thus patch rank increased after Paleoindian times, with Middle Holocene and more recent groups optimally switching to a wetland stable land use strategy. This prediction is preliminarily tested and ultimately supported using multiple lines of archaeological evidence from 30 Paleoindian and recent period sites from Lake Mojave. Implications of this result are assessed in relation to other Great Basin and Mojave Desert pluvial lakes.

Edward J. Knell earned his MA from the University of Wyoming, his PhD from Washington State University, and is currently a Professor of Anthropology (Archaeology Program) at California State University, Fullerton. His Great Basin research focuses on the Mojave Desert of California, with a long-term research project around pluvial Lake Mojave, that has addressed lithic technology and technological organization strategies, land use, settlement patterns, lithic raw material conveyance, and past climate. He addressed similar questions for the Late Paleoindian Cody complex of the Great Plains. Dr. Knell’s research is published, among other places, in American Antiquity, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, PaleoAmerica, Plains Anthropologist, and a volume he co-edited titled Paleoindian Lifeways of the Cody Complex (University of Utah Press).


April 13, 2023

In-Person and Zoom Meeting (Speaker will be present at the in-person meeting.)

Dr. James E. Snead

Relic Hunters: Archaeology and the Public in Nineteenth-Century America

The history of archaeology in the United States is often presented as a gradual improvement in method/theory, resulting in a better "academic" understanding of indigenous history. In fact, the process by which Euro-Americans "engaged" the material remains of the Native American past was complex, driven not by new ideas but by an increasing public interest in antiquities. Relic Hunters: Archaeology and the Public in Nineteenth-Century America uses rich archival sources to explore this process across the 19th century, documenting how local antiquarian activity — including associations, museums, and collectors — was the principal force behind American archaeology in the era.

James E. Snead is Professor of Anthropology and Curator of the Archaeological Repository at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). He received his BA in Anthropology at Beloit College, followed by an MA and PH.D. at UCLA. He has been awarded grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Research interests include the history of archaeology, ancient roads, and the historical archaeology of the American West post-1850. His current writing project is "Mothers of American Archaeology: Women, Preservation, and Heritage in the Western United States, 1890-1920."


May 11, 2023

Lauren Biltonen, Aimee Montenegro, and Paul Langenwalter

Archaeological Investigations at CA-ORA-423, a Multicomponent Site in the Lower Aliso Creek Drainage, Orange County, California


June 8, 2023

Dr. Nathan Nakatsuka

Genetic Evidence for Ancient Population Shifts and Migrations in Central and Southern California