SANTA ROSA ISLAND - Call it a stroke of luck. A crew working on a rehabilitation project of the historic Main Ranch House on Santa Rosa Island discovered an ancient Native American site.
The ancient site was discovered under the Main Ranch House during the process of lifting the building to construct a new foundation.
Two types of stone tools believed to belong to early North American Paleoindians were among the artifacts uncovered. The Channels Island National Park said these tools were made from local island chert and are signatures of a sophisticated technology of early tool making on the Channel Islands. These tools were used for hunting and fishing.
Jon Erlandson, University of Oregon Archeologist and leading expert on Paleocoastal archeology, said the site may be at least 10,000 years old, "with evidence of some of the earliest people on the West Coast, the first Americans."
Scientists say these types of sites serve as evidence of a coastal migration following the North Pacific Rim from the Northeast Asia into the Americas.
Santa Rosa Island is also the location where the "Arlington Man," the oldest known human remains found in North America, was discovered. The "Arlington Man" dated back about 13,000 years.
Work on the Main Ranch House rehabilitation project was suspended after the discovery of the ancient site. A National Parks Service archeological team, in consultation with the Chumash, is conducting an archeological investigation.
“This ancient site is believed to have considerable value and protecting it is part of the core mission of the NPS and the park’s enabling legislation,” said Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau. “Our goal is to preserve both of these important and irreplaceable cultural resources found in the park.”
The Main House Ranch was constructed sometime after 1869 and served as a sheep and cattle ranch for more than 150 years. It's believed to be one of the oldest wood framed structures in Santa Barbara County.