Research Questions

Public Information Report - Results of 1999 Archaeological Investigation
The list of questions that may be investigated in a rich archaeological deposit is endless. Whether these questions can be addressed depends on what materials are found as the excavation progresses, as well as the techniques used to gather and analyze the data, and the amount of time and money that can be invested. Following is a list of some of the questions that were considered in the Emeryville Shellmound investigation. See links below for synopses of results.

  • When was the site first occupied and for how long? What time periods are represented at the site?
  • Were different areas of the site occupied at different times?
  • Did the use of the site change over time? In what ways?
Diet and Subsistence
  • What plants and animals were used by the occupants of the site? Did these change over time?
  • Where were plant and animal resources obtained and how?
  • Did the site's inhabitants affect the ecology of the surrounding area through their hunting and fishing patterns? In what ways?
  • Did the kinds of shellfish that were used change over time? If so, are there environmental factors that could explain this shift?
Technology and Trade
  • What kinds of tools were used at the site? How were they manufactured? What materials were used?
  • Were the artifacts at the site made locally, made elsewhere? How and where were exotic resources acquired?
  • What kinds of materials likely were acquired in trade? What were the sources of exotic materials?
  • What kinds of perishable materials may have been present?
  • Was the site's use primarily ceremonial, or was it occupied regularly?
  • What archaeological evidence is present of ceremonial activities at the Emeryville Shellmound?
Structure of the Deposit
  • Are there intact deposits that provide information about the earliest occupation of this site?
  • Was the mound built intentionally, or did it just build up over time as the result of long term occupation?
  • What was the effect of the weight of the mound on underlying deposits?
  • How extensive was the deposit and how did it grow over time?
Use of the Site
  • Did people live on the mound, around the mound, or both? How did these patterns change over time?
  • Was the site occupied year round, seasonally, periodically?
  • What activities were carried out at the site?
Natural Environment
  • Where was the bayshore located in relation to the site during the site's occupation?
  • What can we find out about local fresh watercourses? Where was Temescal Creek located during the site's occupation?
  • What can we learn about the ecology of the area by the materials we find in the deposit? How have the environment and the natural setting changed over time?
  • What was Emeryville like 2,000 years ago? 3,000 years ago? 10,000 years ago?
Human Population
  • Who lived at the Emeryville Shellmound? How were they related to other people in Central California?
  • Is there evidence of warfare at the site?
  • What kinds of diseases and injuries were experienced by shellmound people?
  • How were people buried and do burial patterns change over time?
  • Is there evidence of differential treatment of human remains based on age or sex?