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Death Valley History - Desert Indians:
Prehistoric Cultures in the Death Valley Region

Gypsum Period, 2000 B.C.–A.D. 500

The beginning of the Gypsum period coincided with the commencement of a more moist climatic era, often referred to as the Little Pluvial, about 2000 B.C. The Gypsum period was a time of intensive occupation of the desert, coupled with a broadening of economic activities and increasing contact with the California coast and Southwest. The bow and arrow was introduced late in this period, making hunting more efficient. The split-twig figurines and Coso Range petroglyphs, located just outside the planning area, suggest the existence of a rich ritual life.

Although hunting continued to be an important economic pursuit during the Gypsum period, milling stones and handstones became common during this period, indicating increased use of plant foods and reliance on hard seeds. Mortars and pestles and manos and metates are reported at Mesquite Flat in Death Valley and on the Amargosa River, where they dated between 2080 and 3250 B.C. These sites are located near or in mesquite groves, suggesting that the processing of mesquite pods with the mortar and pestle may have become an important element in the subsistence system. Generally, the Gypsum period was a time in which the Mojave Desert population incorporated new technological items and ritual activities and increased socioeconomic ties through trade. Because of these new means of adaptation, the return of arid conditions toward the end of the Gypsum period had relatively little effect on the Mojave Desert’s population density and distribution.

(source - NPS)

Mesquite Flats


Petroglyph in Coso Range

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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