San Dieguito Complex – Pinto Tradition – First Native Americans of California 8500 BC

One of the first cultures that started building up in California was established by the early Holocene people. These people were hunters and gatherers who established near the southern coast of California near San Diego and surrounding regions especially the Southwest and desert regions. This tradition is sometimes also referred as Pinto tradition and La Jolla complex. It is believed that these people started residing in this region around 8500 BC. They started building up their culture around 6500 BC. They dispersed inside the continent due to climatic variations around 200 AD. The most important source of living for these people were the resources which they obtained and exploited from nearby coastlines and marshlands. They also developed tools like leaf-shaped points, knives, choppers, scrapers, and hammer stones. These tools are found to be very similar with Clovis culture of Paleo Indians. So few archeologists even recognize that these people were the earliest Native Americans of California

San Dieguito Complex - Pinto Tradition

Discovery and vocabulary of complex

This culture firstly came out in light when Malcolm J Rogers started studying two different cultures in his county of San Diego. He identified these two cultures by the different tools made by these people. He categorized these two cultures as “Shell Midden People” and “Scraper Maker Culture”. Initial studies suggested that Shell Midden People were older than Scraper Maker Culture. But later Carbon dating studies found that the Scraper Maker Culture was older. Scraper Maker Culture was later termed as “San Dieguito Complex”. Shell Midden people were termed as “La Jolla Complex”. Rogers also found striking similarity between Paleo Indians and early Holocene people as both the archeological sites were revealing uni-facially flaked Lithic stone tools.

Phases of Culture

In 1939 Rogers divided the San Dieguito complex in three different phases on the basis of their occurrence time. Other archeologists believe that division in phase is wrong as this culture continuously flourished near the lower basin of Colorado River and its adjacent areas. Roger divided the culture firstly in three class Malpais, Playa1 and Playa 2. Later he changed the terminology and named it San Dieguito 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Another archeologist Wallace termed it as “Lake Mohave Complex”.

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