Site stewards protect and preserve archaeological sites that contain information about past peoples and the way they lived. Some sites are hundreds or thousands of years old and reflect the lifeways of Indian peoples before Europeans arrived in the New World. Other sites in California, approximately 240 to 50 years old (the Historical Period), provide information about the past lives of both Indian and non-Indian peoples.

Generally speaking, older archaeological sites are identified by the presence of stone tools and chipping waste. Later in time, stone tools are still found, but clay potsherds and bedrock grinding and milling features may be included in the inventory. Bone and shell that has been made into tools or ornamental items may also be found. From sites dating to more recent times, artifacts made of wood, metal, glass, and porcelain are not uncommon.

Shallow mortar holes

Many shallow mortars. This was a busy place where
women and children gathered to work and laugh.

Recording sites in Blair Valley

Site steward recording a bedrock milling feature in
a rockshelter located in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Graffiti found on pictograph rock

Red arrow points to rock with graffiti on it.
A bedrock milling feature is in front of
the rock and pictographs are painted on a nearby boulder.

Some sites include rock shelters used for storage of food, water, and other useful items, as well as for protection from the elements. Rock art sites containing petroglyphs (images pecked or scratched into the rock) and pictographs (images painted on the rock) exist in the parks, but are relatively rare.

Archaeological sites represent places where past peoples lived, played, worked, prayed, laughed, and cried. Some site locations were used over long periods of time on a more-or-less permanent basis. Some were visited repeatedly, but for shorter timeframes and still other locations represent a single, brief occupation.

All of these places contain information about past lifeways. They are nonrenewable resources. Once a site been disturbed or damaged by human activities or natural events, the information it contains is compromised forever. Please help the site stewards protect and preserve our combined heritages by respecting the past and doing no harm to archaeological sites and their settings.

Pictograph Rock Art

Pictograph (painted rock) showing a sun and geometric patterns.

Petroglyph Rock Art

Anthropomorphic petroglyph (human-like figure pecked
into bedrock).

Volcanic Point

A projectile point made from a volcanic lithic material.
The tip has broken off.


Mano or handstone used for grinding hard seeds, nuts, minerals, or clay on a metate or slick.

Cabin Ruins

Site stewards rest in front of historic ruins of a cabin built into the hillside.