Play with Windows Media Player: 300k or 700k


Location: California         Length: 27 min.


In the shadow of Mt. Whitney lies California’s Owens Valley, the deepest valley in North America. Its contrasting environments include snow-capped spires, desert valleys, volcanic moonscapes, and verdant marshlands. Archaeologists for thirty years have recorded petroglyphs, pottery, and bone, wood, and stone tools, piecing together the lifeways of the region’s original inhabitants. With advances in analysis of obsidian (black volcanic glass), they are re-examining what ancient arrowheads, points and flakes can reveal and are learning some surprising things.


Become a
Supporting Member!


A Production of Caltrans – California Department of Transportation – in association with Cinnabar Video and Far Western Anthropological Research Group


Copyright 2002 by California Department of Transportation


"The Obsidian Trail" is available for purchase in TAC Marketplace.



Web links:


California Archaeology (California State Parks)

California Department of Transportation

Cinnabar Video

Far Western Anthropological Research Group

Brown Ware Ceramics of the Prehistoric Owens Valley (PDF)

Society for California Archaeology