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Chumash burial site found that could be 10,000 years old

Wednesday, August 21, 2002
sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/08/21/state0

(08-21) 01:28 PDT OJAI, Calif. (AP) --

Archeologists said they have found one of the largest and oldest Indian burial sites here, dating as far back as 10,000 years.

The site contains tools, bowls and the cremated remains of the Chumash tribe, which inhabited the Central Coast thousands of years ago. The bone fragments of two to five people were unearthed two weeks ago by construction workers who were grading land for a townhouse project.

"In my experience, this is the biggest collection of artifacts found in Ojai," said Pat Tumamait, a Chumash consultant who monitors construction projects to ensure that possible Native American relics are not destroyed or desecrated.

Officials believe the site is between 7,000 to 10,000 years old.

Police were told of the site and the county coroner's office analyzed bits of bone to verify they were human.

The owners of the land said they would redesign the area where the artifacts were found and no additional construction will take place there, said construction superintendent Don Smith.

"For me it's incredible to think that these are someone's ancestors," Smith said. "It's great that we were able to catch it in time."

The 23-unit luxury condominium complex will sit on three acres in Ojai, about 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Many Indian artifacts have been found in the area in recent years, including some Chumash items as the town's police station was being built.

Tumamait said the most important artifacts will be put in a display case on the property when the project is finished. Other items will be taken elsewhere where it won't be disturbed, and be buried.

"This whole valley is an archaeological site," Tumamait said. "This site is pretty significant. It rates about an 8 or 9 for what I have found in the past."

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