Research Project

CSUDH Baja Research Project

The Project:

The CSUDH Baja California Research Project is a multi-phase program of archaeological and ethnohistoric research with the goal of anthropological understanding one of the least known regions in western North America. The study area is located approximately 200 miles south of the international border on the Pacific Coast of the Baja California peninsula. The research focuses on how humans have adapted to a coastal desert over the last 6,000 years. Initiated in the Spring semester 1992, the CSUDH Baja Research Project involves students in significant on-going research. The research is conducted with the cooperation and supervision of the Instituto Nacional de Antropolog’a e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History) through the Regional Center in Mexicali.


The study area covers approximately 630 sq km (240 sq mi) and is located on the Pacific Coast of Baja California between San Quintin Bay and the Rosario Valley, 200 miles south of the border.

History of Project:

The CSUDH Baja Research Project was initiated in Spring 1992. Since then there have been 14 field trips (1992, 1994-2004) which are limited to 15 students enrolled in ANT 313A: Methods and Techniques in Archaeology. The field trips laid the foundation for more extensive archaeological research. During the summer 1995 the first season of archaeological survey was conducted from June-August 1995. The second field season occurred in June-August 1998 and the third season occurred from late June to early August 1999.


The Baja California Research Project has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (New York); the Office of Faculty Affairs, CSUDH; the Committee on Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Program, Office of Grants and Funded Research, CSUDH; the CSUDH Foundation; the College of Arts and Sciences, CSUDH; and the Department of Anthropology, CSUDH. We have also received financial, material and moral support from many former students including Patrick Kehoe, Laura Crowley, Jeff Hrzina, and Sheliah Vickery. We gratefully acknowledge this support.

Summary of Scientific Results:

The research has consisted of archaeological survey and mapping of sites visible on the surface or exposed in eroded arroyo channels or sea cliffs. No excavations have occurred. All artifacts remain in Mexico and are curated at the INAH office in Ensenada.

Only preliminary results are available, but suggest the importance of
future research.

These include:
In a sample of 10% of the project area, over 297 previously unknown archaeological sites were found.

The antiquity of the sites, as currently documented, ranges from AD 1800 back to 5500 BC. It is likely that even older sites will be found in the future.

A wide range of prehistoric Native American sites have been documented:

open air camps, rock shelters, quarry and workshop sites where stone tools were made, and rock art sites.

The research has produced a preliminary inventory of archaeological and historical sites within the project area, including detailed maps of the ruins of two Spanish period missions.

Future Goals:

The Project will continue in upcoming years. Minimally, two field trips to Baja California are taken each Spring Semester as one element in ANT 313, Methods and Techniques in Archaeology. Currently plans are being developed to explore patterns of cross-peninsular transhumance as a mode of prehistoric adaptation in prehistoric Baja California.

Video From the Field:

[Download QuickTime here]
[Download Windows Media Player here]

Bedrock Mortar [Video]
Rock Art (English) [Video]
Rock Art (Spanish) [Video]
Water Source (English) [Video]
Water Source (Spanish) [Video]

Project Director:
Dr. Jerry D. Moore, Professor 
Department of Anthropology
(310) 243-3479

The Cultural Construction of Public and Domestic Space in Prehistoric Peru:

Ancient Architecture and Society in the Tumbes Region

The proposed collaborative research examines prehistoric patterns in the creation of public and private architectural space in the Tumbes region of far northern Peru. Three seasons of excavations of platform mounds, housemounds and adobe compounds will illuminate the differences and similarities in the ancient built environments of the local Garbanzal culture (BCE 500 – CE 500/1000) and the later, intrusive Chimú empire (CE 900 – 1470).  The archaeological fieldwork is informed by an emergent corpus of ideas about human culture and the built environment, emphasizing the way architecture is shaped by and shapes human behavior.  In turn the research draws on an exciting array of digital data collection techniques and new methods for the analysis of ancient architecture.  The results of the research will be widely disseminated in the United States and Peru in a variety of media and forums.

This project is significant for the following reasons:

  • It represents the most extensive archaeological research in far northern Peru in the last 40 years.
  • It will clarify the archaeology of a region of the ancient Andes whose prehistory is essentially unknown.
  • The research will explore an extensive set of issues about how ancient Andean cultures created public and private space.

The research is significant because it represents a major advance in archaeological approaches to ancient architecture.  The research exemplifies an innovative archaeological approach, exploring the ways the built environment is shaped by and shapes human action and utilizing digital media to document and test alternative reconstructions of ancient architecture.

In 2001 a pilot study was developed by Moore, Edward Hudson and Rebecca Christel who developed a reconstruction of the Chimú site of Quebrada Santa Cristina, located in the Casma Valley of Peru.  The site was excavated in 1986 by Moore and Janine Gasco, who co-directed the project.   The settlement was constructed from river canes woven into a wickerwork to form free-standing walls and then roofed with reed matting.  Quebrada Santa Cristina was a camp constructed to house workers building a large complex of raised agricultural fields; the site was probably occupied less than 5 years. Hudson and Christel designed the computer graphic based on plans and photographs prepared by Moore.  The computer graphic was used to explore issues of wayfinding in ancient built environments.