Christopher Corey, California State Parks Associate State Archaeologist

Christopher Corey
Senior State Archaeologist

Cultural Resources Division
1416 9th Street, Room 902
Sacramento, CA 95814
P.O. Box 942896,
Sacramento, CA 94296

Phone:  916-653-9538

Research Articles:
Archaeological Analysis of CA-SFR-4/H Yerba Buena Island
Climate Change Issues at China Camp State Park

As a child growing up in southern California, I visited many of California’s State Parks throughout the state. My parents had a camper built onto a pickup truck chassis and we traveled and camped on our vacations. I lived in southern California and spent my summers on the beaches surfing, swimming, camping, picnicking and having fun in or near the ocean.

I left southern California when I graduated from high school, and moved north to Santa Cruz. I married and raised a family a few blocks from the coast. I became familiar with all of the great State Parks in the Monterey Bay area, including New Brighton and Seacliff State Beaches, Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Año Nuevo State Beach, Point Lobos State Reserve, Sunset and Manresa State Beaches, Big Basin and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Parks, to name a few.

My professional career in archaeology began with work on various Spanish Colonial period projects in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, including Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. I attended Cabrillo College, where I completed their Archaeological Technology Program. I completed field school with Cabrillo College at Julia Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur, and headed to the Southwest to attend another field school at Casa Malpais, a prehistoric pueblo in east-central Arizona. Upon graduation from Cabrillo College, I moved from my home on the central coast to the Sonoran desert, where I attended The University of Arizona in Tucson. I took classes in anthropology and archaeology with a minor in American Indian Studies. As a student, I had the good fortune to be employed in the Arizona State Museum’s site files office (the Information Center for the State of Arizona). I was also employed as an editorial assistant in the State Museum’s publications division. In my second year at the university I took a job working with the National Park Service’s Western Archaeological and Conservation Center (WACC) in Tucson, where I was employed in the Museum Collections Repository and the Archaeology Division. With the National Park Service, I surveyed, recorded, and tested sites throughout the western states, including the north and south rims and within the Grand Canyon, along the Lower Pecos River at Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas, in the backcountry wilderness area of Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona, along the International Boundary in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Coronado National Monument in southern Arizona, in Joshua Tree National Park, Pinnacles National Monument, and Lassen Volcano National Park in California, El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico, and numerous other National Parks and Monuments in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and California.

After graduation from The University of Arizona, I stayed on with the National Park Service, working as project manager on a wide variety of survey and testing projects. I returned to the coast during lulls in projects with the National Park Service (NPS), and spent some time as an independent contractor in northern California. I worked at many locations, including Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, on various projects in San Luis Obispo, and at Fort Hunter-Liggett in southern Monterey County. As a result of the rampant development in the Central Valley, I have worked in various locations in and around the Valley, including the oil fields west of Bakersfield, Fresno, Redding, and throughout the greater Sacramento area. I returned to NPS intermittently as projects got funded. Prior to my employment as an Associate State Archaeologist for State Parks, I was employed as a Senior Archaeologist and Project Manager for a large environmental consulting firm with offices in Sacramento.

I made the move from Santa Cruz to Sacramento in 2006, starting my employment with State Parks in May 2007.

Christopher Corey at Hovenweep
Archaeologist Christopher Corey (pictured above) in front of an
ancestral Puebloan stone tower at Hovenweep National Monument
 on the Utah/Colorado border

Hovenweep (Paiute/Ute for “Deserted Valley”) National Monument protects six prehistoric villages spread along a twenty-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons on the southern Colorado/Utah border east of Cortez, Colorado. Paleoindian artifacts have been recovered in the area that date to 10,000 years before present. Around AD 900, sedentary agriculturists began settling in the area and building multi-storied towers along the canyon rims and mesas. The towers are square, D-shaped, or round. The inhabitants of Hovenweep, estimated at 2500 people during its peak, departed the area around the end of the 13th century. 

The Pueblo, Zuni and Hopi people are descendants of the people who inhabited Hovenweep.Theories of the purpose of the stone towers include celestial observatories, defensive structures, storage facilities, civil buildings, homes or combinations of the above. The area of the Hovenweep ruins was surveyed by Jesse W. Fewkes in 1917 and 1918 for the Smithsonian Institution. He recommended that the unique architecture be preserved and protected. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding proclaimed Hovenweep a unit of the National Park System.

Research Interests:
My areas of interest and study are varied, but have been focused on the archaeology of the desert West. I have always enjoyed the vast open spaces of the Western deserts, and I have endeavored to gain a greater understanding of the cultural adaptations employed by its native inhabitants, past and present. I have had the opportunity to work in the deserts of the Mojave, Sonoran, Chihuauan, and Great Basin in my career.

I have had an interest in ceramic technology and trade, both in prehistoric as well as historic times, throughout my archaeology career. The durability of ceramics assures that they will be found in the archaeological record for many years after deposition. The manufacture of fired clay objects reveals a wealth of traits for researchers, such as trade and technology of a site’s inhabitants. The information often derives from very fragmented sherds that are left behind on archaeological sites, yet these small fragments often provide a wealth of information.

Current Projects:
I am currently working on issues related to cultural resources and wildland fires within California State Parks and coordinating our training efforts with State and Federal personnel. It is a challenge to try to protect our valuable resources within a fire response effort. Though life and property always come first in a disaster situation, it is important to ensure the preservation of cultural sites when and where it is possible. The Archaeology, History & Museums Division currently has six cultural specialists trained and equipped as Resource Advisors for participation in wildland fires within the State Parks. When the fires have been contained, it is the job of the archaeologists and historians of State Parks to assess any damage incurred to buildings, structures and sites and to make recommendations for their treatment and ongoing preservation. We work alongside staff from other agencies to provide cultural resources support. The AHM Division’s cultural specialists are also planning to participate in prescribed burns within the parks in conjunction with members of the Natural Resources Division. Training of cultural specialists is on-going, with the hopes of having staff trained and equipped as Resource Advisors throughout the state.

I am the Series Editor for the State Parks “Publications in Cultural Heritage” series which has recently been reinstated after a decades-long hiatus. The goal of the Archaeology, History & Museums Division is to highlight the archaeology and history of projects undertaken within our parks and make the data available to researchers as well as members of the public. The series was begun again with Volume 26, titled: The Archaeology and History of Año Nuevo State Park. We strive to cover a representational sample of parks throughout the State Parks system with upcoming volumes in the series. The most current publication in the series, Volume 27, is a report on the archaeology of one of our desert parks entitled: An Archaeological Perspective on the Human History of Red Rock Canyon State Historic Park.

Christopher Corey Publications:

In Press Author, report of three years’ inventory survey of Petrified Forest National Park Wilderness Areas currently in progress for the National Park Service.

Author, ground stone analysis chapter for mitigation project in San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge East Span Seismic Safety Project: Archaeological Analysis of CA-SFR-4/H Yerba Buena Island for URS Incorporated. Produced artifact photographs (in studio), and site maps for publication. Published June 2008. Download Article

Author, ground stone analysis for testing project, Curecanti National Park, Colorado. National Park Service. In press.

Co-author. Archeological Survey and Site Testing for the Joshua Tree Roads Project, Package 291. Joshua Tree National Park, California. U.S. Dep’t. of the Interior, National Park Service-Intermountain Region, Western Archeological and Conservation Center Publications in Anthropology 85. Tucson, Arizona.

Co-author. Archaeological Investigations at 3-Mile Bar: Testing at Sites AZ C:02:84 and C:02:40 (GC) Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona. U.S. Dep’t. of the Interior, National Park Service-Intermountain Region, Western Archeological and Conservation Center Publications in Anthropology 86. Tucson, Arizona.

2002  Archaeological Evaluation and Data Recovery at CA-MNT-879, Fort Hunter Liggett Military Installation, Monterey County, California. Co-author, also produced report graphics and photography, and performed final edits of text.

2001  Sole author for two reports documenting results of a data recovery project at Santa Clara University: Electric Utility Service Improvement Construction Monitoring at CA-SCL-30H, Santa Clara University, California. and  Archaeology at Old Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Santa Clara University, California. Albion Environmental, Inc.

2000  Sole author. Cultural Resources Survey of 23 Sites in the Milpitas Valley, Fort Hunter Liggett Military Installation, Monterey County, California. Albion Environmental, Inc. Report prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sacramento, California.

Sole author. Site Recording of Grazing Leases A and B, Fort Hunter Liggett Military Installation, Monterey County, California. Albion Environmental, Inc. Report prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sacramento, California.

Co-author. Nacimiento River Survey, Fort Hunter Liggett Military Installation, Monterey County, California. Albion Environmental, Inc. Report prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sacramento, California.

Contributed graphics, artifact photography, various tables, References Cited, and  “Talc Schist Pendant” sections of report: Archaeological Evaluation and Data Recovery of CA-MNT-237, and CA-MNT-519, Fort Hunter Liggett Military Installation, Monterey County, California. Albion Environmental, Inc. Report prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sacramento, California.

1997  Editorial Assistant. Prehistory of the Borderlands: Recent Research in the Archaeology of Northern Mexico and the Southern Southwest. Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 186, The University of Arizona, Tucson.

Author, numerous Trip Reports and small compliance survey project reports for the National Park Service.