Archaeological Research Facility

McCarthy Hall, Room 2 (MH-2)

Department of Anthropology

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

California State University at Fullerton

P.O. Box 6846

Fullerton, CA 92834-6846


Contact: Dr. Steven R. James, Director

(657) 278-2765


Mission and Goals


            The Archaeological Research Facility (ARF) houses invaluable archaeological and ethnographic collections, and their records, in order to maintain their continuing research, educational, heritage, and cultural resource management values for the University, Orange County, the State of California, and the federal government, and thus helps fulfill some of the Universityís Mission, Goals, and Strategies.


            The Facility serves as a repository for the significant prehistoric archaeological resources from Orange County, other archaeological collections from other regions, and archival documents that pertain to these collections, and maintains facilities in which students, faculty, and qualified researchers from the community can study these collections.  Most of the archaeological collections were recovered from a number of prehistoric archaeological sites in Orange County that have since been destroyed by construction of houses, office buildings, roads, freeways, and other urban developments during the past 50 years.  These archaeological collections are all that remains to document and verify the prehistoric human record of Orange Countyís past that extends back at least 12,000 years ago. 


            The Facility also provides support for lab and field research conducted by the archaeology faculty in the Anthropology Department, California State University at Fullerton, including field classes and projects in southern California (e.g., San Nicolas Island, Palos Verdes Peninsula), the American Southwest, and Mesoamerica.   Some archaeological materials from our collections are placed on short-term loans to other cultural and educational institutions, and these loans serve as an important vehicle for imparting knowledge about our shared past to students, faculty, and the general public in Orange County.


            The California State University at Fullerton is the only university in Orange County with significant archaeological collections, and as such plays a critical role in preserving and protecting the regionís archaeological record, and in making it accessible to qualified researchers.   In concert with the South Central Coastal Information Center in the Department of Anthropology, the Center for Oral and Public History, and the Orange County Archaeology and Paleontology project, the Archaeological Research Facility positions the California State University at Fullerton campus in the leadership position for understanding and researching Orange Countyís prehistory, ethnohistory, and history. 



Recent and Ongoing Projects


Archival Research Background for Archaeological Collections.  Undergraduate student interns (enrolled in ANTH 491; have worked with Director Dr. James, our staff, and the staff at the South Central Coastal Information Center on campus in the Department of Anthropology ( in researching the background of prehistoric archaeological sites that are part of our collections.  The major focus of the background research involves prehistoric sites in the Irvine Ranch Collection.  This project provides significant information about our prehistoric collections and serves as a means for teaching and training student interns, who may become future professional archaeologists and curators.


Curation Project for CaltransArchaeological collections curated by the Archaeological Research Facility for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) were upgraded and rehabilitated through a grant originally awarded in 2006 to the Director from the State Office at Caltrans in Sacramento.  Students participated in the project as paid assistants, receiving hands-on training in archaeological curation methods. 


Curation Upgrade of Department Collections.  As a pilot project for upgrading our archaeological collections, undergraduate student interns (enrolled in ANTH 491) have recently worked with the Director and staff on inventory verification and curation upgrade of the archaeological collection from CA-ORA-198.  This collection was recovered during the first CSUF archaeological field classes (1968-1971).  Interns worked to rebag and box shell midden material from the excavations and performed inventory verification on the majority of the artifacts.  The archaeological materials in our collection are all that remains from this prehistoric site (CA-ORA-198) that is now under a housing development in southern Orange.  This project provided a baseline for upgrading our prehistoric collections and served as a means for teaching and training student interns, who may become future professional archaeologists and curators.


Loan to Fullerton Museum Center, Fullerton, CA.  A small collection of prehistoric artifacts, replicated artifacts, and photographs were placed on loan to the Fullerton Museum Center for their educational exhibit "Tools, Trade and Treasure: Daily Life in Native California."  This exhibit ran from March-October 2009 and provided an opportunity for local school children to learn about local Native American cultures.  Loans such as this one provide an educational opportunity for the ARF and the University to help support local museums and to educate school groups and the general public about our shared cultural heritage in Orange County. 


Olmec Archaeological Research.  Analyses of bitumen sources from the Olmec region of Mexico are being conducted in the ARF by a graduate student under the direction of Dr. Wendt through a National Science Foundation grant to Dr. Carl Wendt (Anthropology) and Dr. Scott Hewitt (Chemistry) at CSUF.  Bitumen analyses will provide significant archaeological data for understanding how this material was used and exchanged by the 3000-year old Olmec, the earliest civilization in the Americas.


ORA-64 Archaeological Research. Analyses of archaeological materials (clay figurines and ground stone) from this significant early prehistoric site in Orange County are currently being conducted by two graduate students in the Department.  Student interns under Dr. Bowser are currently sorting archaeological matrix and curating the materials from the ORA-64 collection with funds provided by the Irvine Corp. to the Anthropology Department.  Analyses of the archaeological materials in our collections will provide significant data for understanding the prehistoric occupation at ORA-64 in southern Orange County.


Student and Faculty Use of the Collections.  Archaeological collections in the Archaeological Research Facility are an invaluable resource that is used by students and faculty in the Anthropology Department at CSUF.  Collections from the Archaeological Resource Facility are also used for student learning and classroom instruction in archaeology courses on campus.


Use of the Collections by Outside ResearchersThe Archaeological Research Facility has been used over the years by professional archaeological researchers from the wider community. 



Contact Information for the Anthropological Archaeology Faculty


Director, Dr. Steven R. James, Associate Professor, (657) 278-2765,


Dr. Brenda Bowser, Assistant Professor, (657) 278-8567,


Dr. Edward Knell, Assistant Professor, (657) 278-5076,


Dr. Carl J. Wendt, Associate Professor and Vice-Chair, (657) 278-5764,



Other Anthropology Department Links


Department of Anthropology


Internships for Curation of Archaeological Collections (ANTH 491)


South Central Coastal Information Center at CSUF



Other Archaeological and Historic Preservation Links

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation:


California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance

Caltrans Historic Bridge Inventory:

California Historical Landmarks:

Historical Society of Southern California:

Los Angeles City Historical Society:

Los Angeles Conservancy:

Los Angeles Public Library Regional History Resources:

National Register of Historic Places:

Native American Heritage Commission:

Office of Historic Preservation:

Office of Historic Preservation Publications and DPR 523 Forms:

Society for American Archaeology:

Society for California Archaeology:

Society of Architectural Historians, Southern California:


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