Arlington Springs Woman

In 1959-60, two femurs were excavated at a site called Arlington Springs on Santa Rosa Island. Responsible for the digs was Phil C. Orr, Curator of Anthropology at the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara. He published his findings in Science 135, 3499 (1962): 219 and American Antiquity 27, 3 (1962): 417-419, followed up by full account in Prehistory of Santa Rosa Island (Santa Barbara, 1968). Jon Erlandson reviews the evidence Orr collected at Arlington Springs in Early Hunter-Gatherers of the California Coast (New York: Plenum, 1994), pp. 184-186.

His successor at the Museum, John R. Johnson (, writes that several years ago he and others re-analyzed the Arlington Springs remains using modern techniques of radiocarbon dating.  At about the same time the site was relocated and a geological section exposed by a crew of geologists from San Diego State University working under the auspices of the National Park Service.  The results of these studies are just now becoming available; for a preview see Ancient Bones May Rewrite History (external) with further links to press coverage. The main discovery is that Arlington Springs Man was in fact a woman and significantly earlier than previously thought. Radiocarbon dating has moved Orr's estimate of 10,000 years ago back to 13,000 B.P.

The research by Johnson's team was presented at the Fifth California Islands Symposium held at the Museum  in March 1999. 

For further information, contact John R. Johnson, Ph.D., Curator of Anthropology, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

See also Cogweb's The Peopling of the the Americas.


Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles