Mojave River Valley Museum
Fossil Shell Layers
Late Holocene Lakes and Horticulture
in the Mojave Sink
Claude N. Warren
Professor Emeritus, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
The late Holocene climate produced perennial lakes in
the Mojave Sink. These lakes supported Anodonta, whose
shells constitute a major component of late prehistoric
middens in the area. These lakes would have supported
aboriginal horticulture during two periods. Reports of
prehistoric corn cobs from the area support this suggestion.
During these same periods, associated ceramics and
other artifacts reflect strong influence in the area from
Four Corners area Anasazi during the earlier period, and
from the Lower Colorado Hakataya during the later period.
During both of these periods, the Turquoise Mountains
were actively mined. The turquoise was transported
east and southeast; none is reported from the California
coast. It is suggested here that horticulture was practiced
in the Mojave Sink, sustaining the miners and supporting
Anasazi and Hakataya control of the turquoise mines.