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A History of Quiet Leadership: SDSU Archaeology between
1915 and 1975
The excavation of the history of San Diego State University archaeology
reveals a tradition of quiet leadership. This article embarks on a systematic
examination of the history of SDSU archaeology between 1915 and 1975.
It endeavors to place the inaugural departmental archaeologists in proper
context by balancing external factors, like the growth of the university
and substantive changes within the discipline, with the particular personalities
of these seminal SDSU scholars of the material past.
First, since there would be no SDSU Anthropology Department and no archaeology
without the university itself, it is helpful to consider the school’s
history. The university first opened its doors to students November 1,
1898, as a “normal” school. Normal schools were institutions
that prepared students for teaching careers. After the mid-19th century,
“American schools changed from being private and church-related
to being tax-supported institutions” (Starr 1995:21). Public education
was “emerging and becoming professionalized,” so society responded
by creating normal schools “to prepare newly professionalized teachers”
(Starr 1995:9). These normal schools featured “tightly prescribed”
curricula (Starr 1995:21). The four-year program of normal schools included
two years of high-school courses followed by two years of college-level
work in academic and vocational subjects, as well as in teaching and administrative
methods (Starr 1995:21).
After 1906, the San Diego Normal School changed (Starr 1995:22). California
began requiring applicants to have a high school diploma, which eliminated
the pre-college-level portion of the normal school curriculum (Starr 1995:22).
The result was that admission requirements at the San Diego Normal School
were virtually the same as the requirements at the University of California
(Starr 1995:22). These events marked “the first step in the evolutionary
process leading the normal school to a four-year teachers college, then
to a four-year liberal arts college, and ultimately to graduate instruction
at the university level” (Starr 1995:22).
Edward L. Hardy was the first administrator to walk this road of change.
Hardy was a progressive educator who believed that individuals were part
of a larger social scheme and needed training in a broad range of fields
(Starr 1995:33). This progressive approach to education resulted from
the emergence of the social sciences at the end of the 19th century. Hardy
believed that teachers needed to be broadly educated so that they could
help prepare students for life (Starr 1995:33). This belief motivated
Hardy to push for curriculum reform and for a four-year teacher training
program (Starr 1995:34). Consequently, Hardy increased faculty, enhanced
library collections, and changed the curriculum to include new social
science courses, including anthropology (Starr 1995:35).
Under Hardy’s leadership the school’s first archaeologist
joined the faculty. Edgar Lee Hewett came to San Diego from the Southwest
to help plan and create exhibits for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition
in Balboa Park. The exposition was like a world’s fair, signaling
the importance of San Diego as a port-of-call relative to the Panama Canal
(Rogers 1988:3). The exposition occurred during the San Diego Normal School’s
1915 summer session. Starr notes that,
The session was offered from July 5-August 13, 1915,
and it was subsidized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
the School of American Archaeology, and the Montessori Institute. Courses
were oriented toward the hemisphere and included American archaeology,
South American history, Spanish language and literature, modern history
and literature, primitive arts, and educational methods (1995:43).
The 1915 summer school was considered “the most notable summer
session of the normal school” (Starr 1995:43). Hewett was largely
responsible for its success given his unique qualifications in archaeology.
Hewett’s interest in archaeology began in boyhood. He grew up in
the Midwest with an appreciation for the great outdoors, a love of adventure,
and a penchant for learning (Hewett 1946:43). As a boy, he “would
lie on the floor studying the Catherwood drawings of the Maya monuments
in the volume of Stephens for hours” (Brand 1939:43). Hewett was
considered a “heckuva baseball player,” but his belief in
education prompted him to pass on the opportunity to play professional
sports (Hewett 1946:43). Instead, he attended the normal school in Greeley,
Colorado (Hewett 1946:106). While there, he explored archaeological sites
in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona (Brand 1939:43). Hewett became
a teacher and taught history and literature at the college level (Brand
1939:14). He self-studied law and business, which helped him earn the
position of the first president of the normal school in New Mexico (Hewett
While in New Mexico, Hewett was contacted by the Smithsonian Institute
to “inspect, study, and report on prehistoric remains in the Southwest”
(Brand 1939:43). Brand reported that,
From the first, Mr. Hewett was impressed with the urgent
need for a proper safeguarding of prehistoric ruins in the Southwest and
elsewhere. The interest and concern of the federal authorities were aroused,
and, in the spring of 1903, Congressman J.F. Lacy, chairman of the house
committee on public lands, came out from Washington and spent two weeks
in the saddle, with Mr. Hewett as his guide (Brand 1939:19).
Hewett was instrumental in the passage of the American Antiquities Act
of 1906. He, along with other archaeologists, drafted the provisions of
the legislation. Through the act’s passage, Hewett managed to unite
competing interests within the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)
and the American Anthropological Association (Zimmerman 2003:19). After
his experience with legislation and preservation, Hewett decided to make
archaeology his career and went to Europe for a doctorate (Brand 1939:19).
Upon his return, he was appointed director of American research under
the AIA. His primary objective was to develop archaeology as a “truly
national science” (Brand 1939:20). Hewett helped establish the School
for American Archaeology in New Mexico (Brand 1939:20). He also aided
in the creation of the Mesa Verde National Park and the Chaco and Bandelier
national monuments (Brand 1939:46). In addition, Hewett determined the
“conservation trend…and museum policies of the federal and
state governments” (Brand 1939:46).
By the time he arrived in San Diego, Hewett was considered the “unofficial
dean of American archaeology” (Brand 1939:24). The Smithsonian Institute
appointed Hewett director of educational exhibits for the upcoming exposition
(Rogers 1988:3). Hewett “held that anthropology and education were
inseparable” (Hewett 1946:122). He worked with famous anthropologists
at the time, including Drs. Aleš Hrdlicka, William H. Holmes, and
John P. Harrington, to create the educational exhibits. Rogers explains
that Hewett’s vision was “ to develop exhibits illustrating
aspects of each of the main branches of anthropological science: physical
anthropology, ethnography, and archaeology” (Rogers 1988: 3).
As a member of the School of American Archaeology, Hewett was appointed
designer of the exposition’s central exhibit, “The Story of
Man Through the Ages” (Museum of Man 2004). He led expeditions to
the Southwest to collect prehistoric pottery and to Guatamala to gather
information about Mayan monuments (Museum of Man 2004). Hrdlicka also
led expeditions, including one to Peru which resulted in a famous collection
of trephined skulls still housed at the San Diego Museum of Man. Hewett
and Hrdlicka worked “to collect specimens for the most comprehensive
physical anthropology exhibit ever assembled” (Museum of Man 2004).
The exhibits impressed many visitors and helped make the exposition a
great success. Upon the exposition’s conclusion, the exhibits were
retained through the establishment of the San Diego Museum Association,
and Hewett was named the first director of the new San Diego Museum of
Science (Museum of Man 2004).
It is interesting to note how the creation and manifestation of the exposition
paralleled what was occurring in the discipline of archaeology. Up to
the time of the exposition, American archaeology was in the midst of its
Classificatory-Descriptive Period (Willey 1974:42). The focus was on the
description and classification of archaeological materials, especially
architecture and monuments (Willey 1974:42). Hewett even included Mayan
temple replicas in the exposition. Archaeologists of the time worked to
make archaeology a systematic science, yet they were not entirely successful
(Willey 1974:42). The period lacked chronological perspective and related
methods; however, archaeologists conducted typological, classificatory,
and geographical distribution studies which helped lay the groundwork
for most of the 20th century (Willey 1974:42). Most archaeological work
during the early part of the 1900s was sponsored by the U.S. government,
by universities, by museums, and by scientific societies (Willey 1974:42).
As the U.S. expanded westward, the discovery and description of antiquities
increased (Willey 1974:42). There was avid interest in early man, and
American archaeologists sought to find early remains on the American side
of the Atlantic Ocean (Willey 1974:42). Willey noted that, “Archaeology
began being taught in universities, and the alliance between archaeology
and general anthropology began academically and in the field” (Willey
This archaeology-anthropology alliance was evident at San Diego State.
By 1921, Hardy had succeeded in converting the normal school to a four-year
teacher’s college (Starr 1995:47). Hewett was appointed the first
professor of anthropology at the new “San Diego State Teachers College.”
He taught four courses: General Anthropology 1A: Origin and Antiquity
of Man; General Anthropology 1B: Origin and Development of Civilization;
103: Outlines of Culture Growth; and 104: Culture History of the Southwest
(Course Bulletin 1923-1924:39). With Southwest archaeology expanding,
Hewett remained active there, particularly in New Mexico. He split time
between his work in New Mexico and his role at the San Diego museum and
the teachers college. Hewett taught at San Diego State from 1922 until
1929 as the sole professor of anthropology. He then resigned from San
Diego State and from the San Diego museum. Before returning to New Mexico,
however, he went to Los Angeles and established the anthropology program
at the University of Southern California (Brand 1939:47).
After Hewett left San Diego, Lyman Bryson took his place at the teacher’s
college and at the museum. A former student of Hewett, Bryson greatly
admired him. He wrote this about Hewett:
But few American anthropologists have made contributions to the theory
of practice of the education by which our own society is maintained. Professor
Hewett’s pioneer work in this field is not the least element in
his significance as a leader in the development of American thought (Brand
During the 1929-1930 school year, Bryson taught just one course: “Anthropology
50: Man’s Evolutionary History” (Course Bulletin 1929-1930:32).
By this time American archaeology had moved into its Classificatory-Historical
Period, Phase I (Willey 1974:88). This period was concerned with chronology
as “stratigraphic excavation was the primary method” for establishing
data chronology, although seriation and stratigraphic studies were also
used (Willey 1974:88). Before this, artifact classification had been descriptive;
in this phase classifications were used to plot culture forms in time
and space (Willey 1974:88). The purpose of archaeology at this time was
“culture-historical syntheses of New World regions and areas”
(Willey 1974:88). The old relationship between archaeology and ethnology
led “to the use of ethnographic analogies in interpretations of
use and functions in prehistoric cultures” (Willey 1974:88). The
culture area concepts of ethnologists fostered interest in relationships
between culture and the natural environment, which provided a base for
later cultural-ecological study (Willey 1974:88). Field methods and excavation
also improved, including more careful recovery of materials and features
While archaeology was yet to surface at San Diego State, anthropology
continued during the 1930-31 academic year with “Man’s Evolutionary
History” again offered by Bryson. This time, however, he offered
the course with the assistance of another student of Hewett’s: Spencer
Rogers. Rogers had witnessed Hewett’s work before he ever entered
his classroom. As a 10-year-old boy, Rogers viewed the trephined skulls
from Peru featured at the exposition. Rose Tyson, a former student of
Rogers and the current curator of physical anthropology at the San Diego
Museum of Man, said that he was so inspired by the skulls at the exposition
that he decided then to become an anthropologist (personal communication,
March 2005). Rogers attended San Diego State Teachers College, gained
his Masters degree from Claremont Graduate School, and earned his Ph.D.
from the University of Southern California. Rogers then returned to San
Diego State as instructor of anthropology when Bryson left.
In 1932, archaeology was offered for the first time at San Diego State
when Rogers taught “Anthropology 51A-51B: American Indian Archaeology”
(Course Bulletin 1932-33:51). The course focused on the ancient life of
the American Indian in the Southwest. It reviewed theories about the origins
and early migrations of the American Indians and the evidence of pre-Columbian
civilization in America. The class also studied the practices of living
people to explain archaeological findings. Coursework included original
document research of anthropological records of the San Diego Museum of
Anthropology (Course Bulletin 1932-1933:51). There is no apparent evidence
that Rogers organized field-school activity at this time, but there is
reference to San Diego State students working with local archaeologist
Malcolm Rogers (no relation to Spencer Rogers) (Hanna 1982:222).
Throughout the 1930s, Rogers taught “Man’s Evolutionary History,”
“The American Indian,” “Primitive Cultures,” “Primitive
Religions Culture,” “Culture History,” and “Social
Anthropology” (Course Bulletins 1932-1939). During this time, the
school itself witnessed significant change. For example, Hardy retired
and became director at the San Diego Museum of Science. The school moved
from a location on Park Boulevard to its current spot on Montezuma Mesa
(Starr 1995:69). Under Walter Hepner, the president who succeeded Hardy,
the school’s name changed from “San Diego State Teachers College”
to “San Diego State College” (Starr 1995:91). It became “more
of a liberal arts college and less focused on teacher training”
By the 1940s, “State was established in its new location and had
evolved into a broadly based liberal arts college” (Starr 1995:104).
Archaeology shifted, too. It moved into Phase II of its Classificatory-Historical
Period. The major concerns of this period were context and function (Willey
1974:131). Archaeology took a back seat to ethnology and social anthropology
during this era (Willey 1974:131). Willey notes that, “Thoughts
of such inferiority led to a critical re-examination of the aims and procedures
of archaeology and the instigation of new trends later in the period”
(Willey 1974:131). Three contextual-functional approaches resulted: 1)
Artifacts were considered to be material relics of social and cultural
behavior; 2) Settlement patterns became important regarding understanding
socio-economic adaptations and socio-political organization; and 3) Relationships
between culture and the natural environment became important (Willey 1974:131).
Archaeology also began borrowing scientific aids from other disciplines
to develop methodologies in searching for context and function (Willey
1974:131). While chronology was still important, attention shifted to
correcting and refining sequences (Willey 1974:131). Willey states that,
“Historical constructs such as ‘horizons’ and ‘traditions’
were widely used and concerned with occurrences of style and technical
features in space and time and in the establishment of diffusional or
genetic connections between such forms” (Willey 1974:131).
World War II cast its shadow on San Diego State during the 1940s. Decreases
in the enrollment of students and faculty resulted (Starr 1995:109). Curriculum
changes occurred as liberal arts were de-emphasized and science and technology
courses were favored (Starr 1995:112). After the war, however, the GI
Bill helped repopulate the school. The faculty was rebuilt, and doctorates
were required for tenured positions (Starr 1995:125). The faculty became
more involved with research as postwar funds became available (Starr 1995:125).
Related disciplines were divided into divisions (Starr 1995:125). Anthropology,
for example, fell under the rubric of the Social Sciences Division (Course
Bulletin 1946-1947:96). Rogers carried the teaching load during this time,
offering new classes such as “Primitive Myths and Rituals,”
“Ethnology & Race Psychology,” “Indian Cultures
of the Southwest,” and “World Ethnology” (Course Bulletins
In 1947, San Diego State archaeology resurfaced when Rogers offered “Anthropology
3: Survey of Archaeology.” This course reviewed the history of modern
archaeology and discussed its methods. It also covered the development
of archaeological techniques in reconstructing ancient cultures of the
Mediterranean world. Further, it reviewed the problems of archaeology
in the Near East, the Orient, and the Americas. It also covered the principles
and basic techniques used in the excavation of sites and in the reporting
of findings (Course Bulletin 1947-48:112).
By the 1950s, San Diego State expanded in numbers, services, and curricula
(Starr 1995:91). Malcolm Love, who leant his name to Love Library, became
president. He led the school through tremendous growth, improved the faculty,
moved the institution closer to university status, increased campus space,
and expanded the curriculum (Starr 1995:131). Consequently, faculty was
required to have research credentials, and faculty involvement in research
increased (Starr 1995:125).
Rogers’ research included “the first archaeological field
school at San Diego State College” (Noah 1987:1). The 1950 San Clemente
excavation “contributed to the body of literature pertaining to
the archaeology of California’s southernmost island” (Noah
1987:1). With the authorization and support of the United States Navy,
Rogers and 12 students “reconnoitered several areas generally within
the northern one-half of the 21-mile-long island. During a period of only
10 days, a total of 14 archaeological sites were subjected to data recovery”
(Noah 1987:3). Noah described the methods and “systematic fashion”
of Rogers’ fieldwork during this later phase of the Classificatory-Historical
Period in American archaeology, stating:
Fieldwork included conducting surface collections and
subsurface investigations, the latter consisting most often of excavating
a narrow trench across the presumed midden boundaries of a site, expanding
outward from the trench with larger excavation units in areas of greatest
artifact density. Recovery methods and results were recorded in field
notebooks. In addition to this site-specific data recovery, a number of
isolated artifacts were selectively collected from various locations on
An in-field laboratory was set up to catalog the artifacts during the
field work. . . At the close of the field season all recovered materials
were boxed and sent to the mainland via barge. Upon arrival at San Diego
State College, Dr. Rogers wrote a summary report, one student prepared
locational maps for field survey data, and one student compiled a photographic
album documenting the field program. All artifactual and documentary materials
were placed in storage in what had been designed as a janitor’s
closet at the north end of the Social Sciences Building.
That the collection was immediately curated rather than undergoing a thorough
analysis following the fieldwork is explained by two facts. First, the
Sociology-Anthropology Department at San Diego State College, which had
only that year authorized its first archaeological field school, was completely
lacking in laboratory facilities as well as funding for laboratory supplies.
Second, it appears that a major portion of the nascent anthropology student
population may not have returned to school in the fall owing to the outbreak
of the Korean War only ten days before the beginning of the field school
While written history provides a straightforward account of the San Clemente
excavations, various oral histories offer added insight and intrigue.
Ronald May, a former student of Rogers, explained that the Navy actually
contacted Rogers to conduct forensic investigations of a suspected murder
site on the island (e-mail interview, March 2005). While Rogers collected
numerous artifacts, including marine shell, mortars, and faunal remains,
May reported that Rogers’ focus was on the skeletal remains discovered
(e-mail interview, March 2005). May explained that Rogers was a skeletal
specialist who held pre-eminent status with the County Coroner, the Museum
of Man, and as full professor at San Diego State (e-mail interview, March
Rogers was the heart of San Diego State anthropology from 1931 until 1971.
According to May,
Rogers was an old school anthropologist. He always
wore three-piece suits with his Phi Beta Kappa key hanging off a gold
chain on his vest. Rogers arrived at 8 am promptly and lectured without
notes. His encyclopedic mind enabled him to address any form of question
and he could quote passages and authors at will. Rogers stood at attention
at the head of the class and delivered his lectures. He often underscored
his lessons with anecdotes. He seemed to know all the great anthropologists
of his time and shared stories of meeting with them at conferences or
field trips. He wandered down the tables and engaged students in discussion
of the reading material, skeletal specimens, and trained students how
to observe as anthropologists. Rogers combined lectures and hands-on training.
Final exams in upper division physical courses included 2000 bones, fragments,
animal bones, and coroner specimens laid out on tables. Students had to
identify human and animal bones, side the bones, and note evidence of
trauma. Hand bones were in a leather cup, and students were timed in pouring
them out, assembling them, and identifying them (e-mail interview, March
Primarily a physical anthropologist, Rogers’ focused on his research
and publication. He provided the first definitive analysis of the 6,000-year-old
La Jollan Indian Culture (Williams 2000:B-7). His work provided significant
insight into La Jollan stature, head form, and facial features (Williams
2000:B-7). According to May, Rogers’ work with La Jolla skeletons
remains unchallenged (e-mail interview, March 2005).
While the San Clemente excavations raised Rogers’ interest in archaeology,
he did not make archaeology a permanent part of the San Diego State anthropology
curriculum until nearly a decade later (May, e-mail interview, March 2005).
Besides digging at San Clemente in 1950, Rogers inherited the directorship
of the San Diego Museum of Man, as did his predecessors Hewett, Bryson,
and Hardy. Rogers held several positions at the museum over the years,
and he often presented lectures to the public (San Diego Museum Bulletin
for Members 1938). For example, in his role as scientific director, Rogers
wrote articles on the collection of Peruvian trephined skulls he had seen
as a child. In fact, Rogers’ expertise on the human skeleton made
him a valuable consultant to local authorities (Williams 2000:B-7). Former
student Charlotte McGowan said that Rogers was the anthropologist in San
Diego (personal communication, April 2005). May said that Rogers handled
forensic investigations for the Coroner’s Office at old crime scenes
(personal communication, March 2005). Former student Therese Muranaka
said that the department was the “work horse of the city”
(e-mail interview, March 2005).
Rogers also surveyed anthropology conferences for potential colleagues.
During one such conference in the 1950s, Rogers met a young U.S. Border
Patrol Agent with an M.A. in anthropology who was working on a Ph.D. from
the University of Arizona. According to Sayler, a curatorial volunteer
who worked with Rogers at the San Diego Museum of Man, the young man told
a joke that Rogers never forgot, and Rogers ultimately added him to the
anthropology department at San Diego State College (personal communication,
March 2005). That new addition to San Diego State was archaeologist Paul
By all accounts, Ezell was cantankerous and did not get along well with
others. He was, however, a sound archaeologist, and according to Muranaka
“strong on archaeological field techniques” (personal communication,
March 2005). When he first arrived at San Diego State in 1956, Ezell continued
his involvement in Arizona archaeology (Gross 1993:207), much like his
Southwestern predecessor Hewett. Ezell conducted weekend surveys with
San Diego State students in the early 1960s, but spent time during his
early years establishing the Cultural Anthropology Lab (Gross 1993:207).
Gross details that this lab was “a curatorial facility for the ethnographic
and archaeological collections of the department, as well as the location
for the SDSU site files” (1993:207-08).
Ezell’s first major archaeological projects at San Diego State were
the excavations at the C.W. Harris site in 1960 and in 1964 (Gross 1993:207).
Gross reported that,
In the spring and summer of 1964 Ezell’s crew
at the Harris site excavated trenches and units at 2 of the major loci
of the site [Carrico, et al. 1991:3.7]. This work resulted in a large
collection, and data on large features in the upper levels of the site
that appear to be associated with the Milling Archaic of La Jolla occupation
of the site (Gross 1993:207).
In hopes of ascertaining the site stratigraphy and maximizing artifact
recovery, Ezell and his crew dug trenches perpendicular to the river terrace
(Site Analysis Report 2000:47). Artifact categories of the Harris site
included debitage, ground stone, human remains, percussion, biface, bone,
shell, minerals, pottery, and scrapers (Bignell 2000:3).
In 1965, San Diego State archaeology broke new ground. They became involved
in a salvage project. In anticipation of the widening of Interstate 5,
Caltrans contacted the California Parks and Recreation, which in turn
contracted a new San Diego State professor named Dewey Buck to head the
archaeology project. According to former student and instructor, Chris
White, Buck led students on an excavation near San Onofre Creek, which
occurred “under miserable conditions,” (telephone interview,
April 2005). Students camped for two months on-site at Camp Pendleton
amidst Vietnam War training exercises. White said that marines would routinely
sneak up on students, who would find themselves staring down the barrel
of a gun. Despite these unnerving experiences, Buck’s excavations
yielded ceramics, beads, and abalone pendants (Chris White, telephone
interview, April 2005).
That same year excavations at the San Diego Presidio began in conjunction
with San Diego State and the San Diego Historical Society. Since Ezell
was away on sabbatical that year, Professor Donald Brockington broke ground
on the Presidio project. Ezell assumed directorship of the excavations,
which were run as year-round field classes, when he returned in 1966.
These excavations centered on the chapel and other nearby structures (Gross
1993:208). The project, which lasted through 1976, had a far-reaching
impact on San Diego. Gross noted that,
One aspect of the site that has had a great effect
on the conduct of archaeology in the San Diego area is that the Presidio
had some clear stratigraphy associated with the construction and occupation
of the fort, its deterioration and ruin, post-abandonment dumping, and
its ultimate burial by workers bringing in imported fill to cover the
site in preparation for park construction. This was a site with ample
examples of the workings of the law of superposition and was a site where
metric stratigraphy and the careful excavation in arbitrary levels worked
In 1970, Ezell expanded archaeological field class offerings to include
concurrent classes at the Presidio and at the Bancroft Ranch House (Gross
1993:208). Students learned about prehistoric materials at the Bancroft
Ranch site (Gross 1993:208), which had been a Kumeyaay village. Gross
With two field classes going, students were expected
to do their introductory class at one of the sites and to do their advanced
class at the other, to broaden their experience base. The students in
the advanced class served as supervisors for the beginning students, so
they gained experience in running field crews. Each site also had a student
foreman, providing students the opportunity to exercise greater judgment
and responsibility (1993:208).
The Bancroft Ranch work yielded material remains including associated
funerary objects, burned shell beads, post holes, animal bones, bone fragments,
and human remains, which were later repatriated (Bancroft Ranch Collection
and Site Background:2).
Ezell believed that public education and participation were important
to San Diego State’s archaeology program. As a result, he required
students to guide tours through excavations to reinforce what they were
learning (Gross 1993:208). Ezell also established cooperative programs
with local community colleges, including the archaeology program at Southwestern
College led by former Ezell student, Charlotte McGowan (personal communication,
April 2005). Through the Presidio excavations, Ezell created the first
public archaeology program at San Diego State (Gross 1993:209).
San Diego State archaeology remained active in 1971 when “Ezell
contracted with Caltrans to conduct data recovery excavations at Buckman
Springs and Cottonwood Creek, two prehistoric sites that would be impacted
by the expansion of Interstate 8” (Gross 1993:208). Ezell let graduate
students direct field work at these excavations, while he continued the
regular summer programs at the Presidio and at Bancroft Ranch (Gross 1993:209).
Students excavated more than 200 units at Buckman Springs (Gamble 2005:7.1).
The site’s features consisted of bedrock mortars, rock walks, and
stone structures. Unearthed artifacts included projectile points, ground
stones, ceramics, pipes, beads, and bone (Gamble 2005:7.1). The Cottonwood
Creek site yielded two hearths and a midden containing sherds, flakes,
a fish effigy, projectile points, and a shell pendant (Gamble 2005:6.1).
Large amounts of burned bone and olivella shell bead were also found.
The second hearth contained many artifacts, including tourmaline, quartz,
crystal, a small core, pottery, and pinion nut (Gamble 2005:6.1). Excavation
methods at Cottonwood Creek included 51 test units measuring 1 x 2 meters,
with unit depths between 40 and 300 cm. Nine trenches were excavated with
a mechanical backhoe “to ascertain stratigraphic relationships”
Ezell stayed abreast of developments in American archaeology. For example,
in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he tried to expose students to the
rapidly developing “New Archaeology” (Gross 1993:210). This
“Explanatory Period” of archaeology grew from young archaeologists
trained by both social anthropologists and by archaeologists with the
main concern of “elucidation of cultural process” (Willey
1974:178). The approaches of New Archaeology included an evolutionary
view point, general systems theory, and logico-deductive reasoning (Willey
1974:178). While Ezell acknowledged the benefits of this “New Archaeology,”
he openly wondered what was so new about it (Gross 1993:210).
By 1972, California agencies had begun requiring archaeology on private
and public projects (Gross 1993:209). Ezell prepared to meet this demand
in archaeology with the help of advanced students and through the establishment
of explicit procedures for contracting archaeological services through
the San Diego State Foundation (Gross 1993:209). He involved students
and other professionals in discussions which led to rules regarding minimum
qualifications for individuals who conducted archaeological surveys (Gross
1993:209). Ezell researched services and costs and developed a viable
set of charges and pay so that students could be compensated fairly (Gross
1993:209). Ezell’s objective in developing this nascent Cultural
Resource Management (CRM) program was “to help students understand
the laws and practices associated with the developing field of CRM”
Ezell felt that archaeology had a large role in society (Gross 1993:210).
In addition to establishing the public archaeology program, the community-minded
Ezell wrote articles for an educational journal suggesting that archaeology
could lend focus to at-risk children (Gross 1993:209). He also helped
amateur archaeologists form the San Diego Archaeological Society (Gross
1993:209). McGowan said that he often traveled to Mexico, visiting remote
villages, to work with Indians (personal communication, April 2005). Over
the years, Ezell taught excavation courses, introductory classes in physical
and cultural anthropology, and more advanced courses in analysis methods,
California Indians, and Southwestern Prehistory (Gross 1993:210). He retired
from San Diego State in 1975.
While Ezell and Rogers greatly contributed to the tradition of archaeology
at San Diego State from 1931 to 1975, the anthropology department and
the university rapidly evolved before their eyes in the 1960s and 1970s.
Increased research and restructuring moved San Diego State closer to university
status, which was finally attained in 1972 (Starr 1995:187). One result
of the restructuring was that anthropology split from sociology and formed
its own department in 1964 (Love 1964:1). Rogers was named department
chair in recognition of the many years he had served the department and
the discipline (Love 1964:1). The faculty rapidly increased with qualified
professors. Graduate enrollments also increased at the time, and the anthropology
department issued its first M.A. degree in 1969 (Philip Greenfeld, personal
communication, March 2005).
Rogers spent much time building the department in the 1960s, recruiting
people “he thought would round out student education” (Ron
May, e-mail interview, March 2005). Consequently, by the 1970s, the faculty
included notable professors in all four fields of anthropology, including
socioculturalists Arthur Anderson, Victor Goldkind, Henry Lewis, Charles
Mann, Ronald Provencher, Wade Pendleton, Dick Jones, Vivian Rohrl, Dan
Whitney, Edward Henry, Larry Watson, and others. The new physical anthropologists
were Mary Jane Moore, Lois Lippold, and Al Sonek. Linguistic anthropologists
included Philip Greenfeld and Ronald Himes. The other new anthropological
archaeologists were Richard and Mary Elizabeth Shutler, Donald Brockington,
Dewey Buck, Larry Leach, Barbara Voorhies, Brad Bartell, and Joseph Ball.
With all the new additions in the department, Rogers and Ezell had become
relegated to the past.
However, the heritage of Rogers, Ezell, and Hewett was not forgotten.
McGowan, for example, summed up her undergraduate and graduate experiences
with Rogers and Ezell this way: “The seriousness and intensity with
which they loved what they were doing made it all the more exciting”
(personal communication, April 2005). The dedication of these pioneering
archaeologists established a local tradition that was sound in method
and in theory, dedicated to research and teaching, and attentive to the
needs and interests of the surrounding community.
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1993 Archaeology at San Diego State. Proceedings of the Society for California
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Hewett, Edgar Lee
1946 Two Score Years. University of New Mexico Press.
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on San Clemente Island. M. A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, San
Diego State University.
1988 The Prehistory of the Museum of Man. Discovery: A monthly publication
of the San Diego Museum of Man, Volume 5, Number 8.
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1938 San Diego Museum, Volumes II and III, Nos. 2 and 3, San Diego, California.
Site Analysis Report
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1995 San Diego State University: A history in word and image. San Diego:
San Diego State University Press.
The San Diego Presidio Collection and Preservation Project
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Willey, Gordon R., with Jeremy A. Sabloff
1974 A History of North American Archaeology. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman
2000 Spencer Rogers, 95, was ‘Mr. Anthropology’ in San Diego.
The San Diego Union-Tribune, June 28: B-7:2; B-9:1.
Zimmerman, Larry J., with Karen D. Vitelli, and Julie Hollowell-Zimmer
2003 Ethical Issues in Archaeology. California: AltaMira Press.