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Archaeology and History on Sonoma County’s Coast

Sonoma County’s 55-mile coast has been rich with human history for thousands of years

With its stunning views, steep cliffs, isolated coves, and beautiful beaches, Sonoma County’s 55-mile coast has been rich with human history for thousands of years.

Today Sonoma County’s uncrowded coastline draws countless numbers of people from around the world. But that’s nothing new: people have been coming here far longer than you might realize.

“Archaeology & History of the Sonoma Coast,” a popular seminar led by noted archaeologist Tom Origer, founder of Tom Origer & Associates, is set for Sunday, Oct. 22. It covers some of the changes that have occurred along the coast from an archaeological and historic perspective.

“I’ve been doing archaeology since the late 1960s,” Origer said recently. “I taught archaeology at Santa Rosa Junior College for 30 years, and I’ve had my own business in archaeology since 1983. We do a lot of stuff for state parks and county parks, and we work with a lot of Native American tribes.”

Origer’s projects have included surveys in which he looks for evidence of archaeological sites, as well as excavations when sites are threatened by an activity such as coastal erosion. “That’s when we go in and excavate the site to get the information it contains before it’s gone.”

According to Origer, the five-hour seminar includes both an indoor and outdoor component. “There’s some learning beforehand,” he said, “and then we’ll go out into nature to see an archaeological site.”

In the morning, Origer will discuss some of the coastal sites he’s worked on (mostly in Sonoma County, but also one or two in Humboldt County). He’ll also talk about artifacts, including how they’re dated and identified, and about the effects of sea level rise and change on the coast.

After lunch the class will set out to see one of the oldest archaeological sites on the Sonoma Coast, Duncan’s Landing.

“It’s actually a combination site,” Origer said. “The oldest part is Native American, and there’s a more recent historic component.”

While there, he’ll briefly discuss the historic use of coves such as the one at Duncan’s Landing.




Name: Archaeology & History of the Sonoma Coast

Date: Oct. 22, 2017

Time: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Place: Location details will be given to you upon registration

Fee: $16 for members of Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods, $20 for non-members.

To register: Visit Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods

Looking for more things to do on your visit? See more fun things to do in Sonoma County. 

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