Radiocarbon Dating of Malibu Artifacts Confirms Importance of Farpoint Site
• National Science Foundation and Smithsonian Officials Are Among Those Urging Preservation and Additional Archaeological Research at Point Dume Property •
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Archaeologist Gary Stickel announced at a recent lecture at the Malibu Public Library that a stone spearhead, or point, found at a local construction site by a Native American project monitor in 2005 has been established as an artifact from the oldest archaeological find in the City of Malibu.
Radiocarbon dating of mussel shell fragments from the site that was provided gratis by the National Science Foundation at the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Laboratory at the University of Arizona dates them to 9074 BP (Before Present).
The shells would have been brought to the site, Dr. Stickel says, by the area’s prehistoric inhabitants, ancestors of the Chumash, the earliest recorded Native Americans who inhabited much of the immediate coastal area, including Malibu.
The archaeologist and his research associate, James Flaherty, indicate that the shell samples were found above the level where the spearhead, believed to be a Clovis era artifact, representing the “oldest identifiable culture in the New World,” was found. The date that Clovis people might have occupied the site has not been established, but proponents of their presence think they could have inhabited Malibu from 12,500 to 11,000 years ago.
Stickel says that Edgar Perez’s find of the spearhead, unearthed during construction work on private property on Point Dume, is “a major archaeological discovery of almost unlimited significance.”
The ebullient archaeologist, who dispenses copies of a letter confirming his role as an archaeological consultant for the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” the way other PhDs provide CVs, says the Farpoint site, as the property is known, “keeps yielding new secrets that are important” to learning about the people who lived in Malibu 9000 and more years ago.
Stickel says, “There is vital additional work to be done at the site.” The current property owner prohibits further excavation, but Stickel hopes to raise the funds to acquire the site and permanently protect it. He adds, “Additional excavation could provide human teeth or bone material that could [corroborate] theories of human habitation.”
Dennis Stanford, the chief archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution and a Clovis era expert, says Farpoint is a “site of national significance and requires interdisciplinary research and protection.”
A growing chorus of archaeological voices supports additional exploration of the site that some say could hold the key to where the people who inhabited the western coastal areas originated.
Stickel has urged the public to take greater interest in the find and rally behind the call for more research. He is critical of what he describes as a lack of interest by Malibu municipal officials in local archaeology. Farpoint’s champion says, “Unfortunately, the City of Malibu is not following the recommendations of Dr. Stanford and has done nothing to protect and preserve this special site.”