This book examines and analyzes prehistoric mortuary practice in the Chumash region of south central California. Because treatment of the dead is an important feature of cultural systems, analysis of temporal and spatial patterns of mortuary practice can shed light on cultural continuity and social structures as they develop. Previous research has argued that a succession of distinct ethnic groups inhabited this region and that these population replacements are indicated by distinct shifts in burial practice. I address the question of ethnic and cultural continuity through analyses of the geographical and temporal pattern of mortuary practice in the region. I also examine both material and non-material aspects of mortuary practice and assess the articulation between these two systems.
Ray Corbett is Associate Curator of Archaeology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. He earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2007 and has also worked for the National Park Service. His research interests include California archaeology, mortuary practice, and cognitive archaeology.