04 September 2017

The Berkeley Shellmound Fall 2017 lecture series


Ohlone Indians in a Tule Boat on San Francisco Bay, by Louis Choris, 1816, published 1822

The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
All lectures begin at 7:00 pm

Tickets $15; $40 for the series
Order tickets here.

There is evidence of human habitation in Berkeley as long as 5,700 years ago. The Berkeley area’s first residents were Ohlone Lisjan native people; their descendants still live in this area. The West Berkeley Shellmound—a City of Berkeley Landmark—is the oldest known of hundreds of shellmound sites around San Francisco Bay. For nearly six thousand years, people have chosen Berkeley as a place to live.

In the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, the above-ground portions of the Berkeley Shellmound were demolished, and streets and developments were laid over a good part of the site. However, much history and culture remains underground; previously unknown native burials were discovered as recently as 2016 along Fourth Street. One square block remains undeveloped, bounded by Fourth Street, Hearst Avenue, University Avenue, and the railroad tracks. A major commercial/housing/parking garage project is currently proposed for that block, and going through the City’s review processes.

Thursday, 26 October 2017, 7:00 pm
Archaeology and Mapping the Shellmounds

Brian F. Byrd, Ph.D., a prehistorian and archaeologist specializing in the Bay Area shellmounds, and R. Scott Byram, P.h.D., an archaeologist and the author of Triangulating Archaeological Landscapes, will talk about the importance of the shellmounds in the mapmaking efforts of the U.S. Coast Survey more than a century-and-a-half ago.

Thursday, 2 November 2017, 7:00 pm
The Native Perspective

Ohlone leaders Corrina Gould, Ruth Orta, and Vincent Medina will present a panel discussion on the ancient ancestral West Berkeley Shellmound site.

Thursday, 26 October 2017, 7:00 pm
Archaeology and the Mounds' Importance in Early Mapping

Brian F. Byrd, Ph.D., a prehistorian and archaeologist specializing in the Bay Area shellmounds, and R. Scott Byram, P.h.D., an archaeologist and the author of Triangulating Archaeological Landscapes, will talk about the importance of the shellmounds in the mapmaking efforts of the U.S. Coast Survey more than a century-and-a-half ago. John Blanchard, chief mapmaker for the San Francisco Chronicle, will discuss modern mapmaking techniques using the latest in mapmaking programs, and how he would make a map of the shellmounds for the newspaper. Robin Grossinger of the San Francisco Estuary Institute will be commentator.


Photo courtesy of the Nels Nelson Archive, American Museum of Natural History

The series is sponsored by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, Indian People Organizing for Change, California Institute for Community, Art and Nature & Earth Island Institute’s Sacred Land Film Project.

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