PCAS General Meetings

Monthly lecture meetings feature noted archaeologists and anthropologists who provide insight into a variety of topics. Lecture meetings are held at the Irvine Ranch Water District Community Room, 15500 Sand Canyon Avenue (between the I-5 and I-405) in Irvine, on the second Thursday of each month, at 7:30 pm. Meetings are free and open to the public. See vicinity and detail maps of PCAS meeting location.

The Irvine Ranch Water District neither supports nor endorses the causes or activities of organizations

that use the District’s meeting rooms which are made available for public use.

PCAS Zoom Meetings  


February 9, 2023

In-Person and Zoom Meeting (Speaker will not be present at the in-person meeting.)

Dr. Vance T. Holliday

Clovis Archaeology Across the Greater Southwest

The First Americans, the so-called “Paleoindians,” were the earliest hunters and gatherers to settle in the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico. They lived at a time when the climate was substantially different than today—generally cooler and wetter. Rivers carried more water, and there were more and larger lakes scattered across the region. Another significant characteristic of this time was the presence of now extinct megafauna—large mammals such as mammoth, mastodon, horse, camel, dire wolf, and several big cats and bears. The best-known characteristic of the Paleoindian foragers is their stone tool technology. Archaeological research shows that the earliest well-established Paleoindian group across North America were makers of Clovis projectile points. Clovis foragers (13,200–12,800 years BP) were not common in the Southwest, but chance discoveries revealed several Clovis kill sites. Southern Arizona contains the highest concentration of mammoth kill sites in the world. Research in northern Sonora recently revealed a Clovis site with the remains of an elephant-like mega-mammal known as a gomphothere. That site (“El Fin del Mundo”) is the northern-most Ice Age gomphothere site in the Americas and the only archaeological site with gomphothere in North America.

Dr. Vance Holliday received a BA in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin (1972), an MA in Museum Science (with a minor in Soil Science) at Texas Tech University (1977), and a PhD in Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1982). He was on the Geography faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1986–2002) and is now in both Anthropology and Geosciences at the University of Arizona. His research career began on the Great Plains of the U.S., focused on reconstructing and interpreting the landscapes and environments in which the earliest occupants of North America lived, and how those conditions evolved during the Paleoindian period. Since arriving at the University of Arizona, he became Director of the Argonaut Archaeological Research Fund, which is devoted to research on the archaeology and geoarchaeology of the Paleoindian period in the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. In addition, he has been part of an international project focused on the Upper Paleolithic archaeology and paleoenvironments of southwestern Russia and central Ukraine.


March 9, 2023

In-Person and Zoom Meeting (Speaker will not be present at the in-person meeting.)

Dr. Edward J. Knell

Paleoindian Land Use at Pluvial Lake Mojave in California’s Mojave Desert

Fluctuations in the extent and productivity of wetland habitat around Great Basin/Mojave Desert pluvial lakes influenced Paleoindian land use strategies. Paleoindians responded to resource fluctuations using a “wetland transient” land use strategy represented by frequent moves between pluvial lakes or a “wetland stable” strategy characterized by comparatively long stays at resource hotspots. To assess the optimal Paleoindian land use strategy around pluvial Lake Mojave—today’s Silver and Soda Lake playas—I and colleagues create a biotic resource structure-based and optimal foraging theory inspired land use model that predicts the conditions Paleoindians at Lake Mojave optimally should select a wetland stable land use strategy (when Lake Mojave supported substantial wetland habitat and was thus a high-rank resource patch) versus a wetland transient strategy (when Lake Mojave supported limited wetland habitat and was thus a low-rank resource patch). The model ultimately predicts that Paleoindians occupied Lake Mojave at a time of reduced wetland habitat or low patch rank, resulting in a wetland transient land use strategy being the optimal land use solution; the amount of wetland habitat and thus patch rank increased after Paleoindian times, with Middle Holocene and more recent groups optimally switching to a wetland stable land use strategy. This prediction is preliminarily tested and ultimately supported using multiple lines of archaeological evidence from 30 Paleoindian and recent period sites from Lake Mojave. Implications of this result are assessed in relation to other Great Basin and Mojave Desert pluvial lakes.

Edward J. Knell earned his MA from the University of Wyoming, his PhD from Washington State University, and is currently a Professor of Anthropology (Archaeology Program) at California State University, Fullerton. His Great Basin research focuses on the Mojave Desert of California, with a long-term research project around pluvial Lake Mojave, that has addressed lithic technology and technological organization strategies, land use, settlement patterns, lithic raw material conveyance, and past climate. He addressed similar questions for the Late Paleoindian Cody complex of the Great Plains. Dr. Knell’s research is published, among other places, in American Antiquity, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, PaleoAmerica, Plains Anthropologist, and a volume he co-edited titled Paleoindian Lifeways of the Cody Complex (University of Utah Press).


April 13, 2023

Dr. James Snead

Relic Hunters: Archaeology and the Public in 19th Century America


May 11, 2023

Lauren Biltonen, Aimee Montenegro, and Paul Langenwalter

Archaeological Investigations at CA-ORA-423, a Multicomponent Site in the Lower Aliso Creek Drainage, Orange County, California


June 8, 2023

Dr. Nathan Nakatsuka

Genetic Evidence for Ancient Population Shifts and Migrations in Central and Southern California