Oware game board

Artifact Featurettes

Every so often, in a variety of formats, the Museum examines an artifact from a past society on the Museum social media pages. You can view some of our past "Artifact Features" here. Stay tuned to our social media for additional pictures and museum happenings.



February 26, 2016: Miniature Karuk Basket

This beautiful, miniature basket was woven by contemporary Karuk weaver Laura Sanders using traditional materials. The warps of the basket, which you can see poking from the edge of the lid as well as along the crossed-warp start, are made of willow shoots. The light-brown primary weft background is of willow root. The overlay, which makes up the design, consists of creamy-white bear grass and wine-red Woodwardia fern.

February 19, 2016: Indonesian Batik

This framed Indonesian batik was given to UC Davis in 1965 by Mrs. Howard (Idaho) Vaughn (1886-1968). Accession records indicated that it was displayed at Picnic Day in 1966, along with Indonesian puppets from Java lent by Dr. Denise O'Brien and Balinese wood sculptures from the collection of Katherine Branstetter.

February 5, 2016: Kawaiisu Resin Spoon, San-na-que-ah-but-zy

This resin spoon was used to coat water bottle baskets with resin from piñon or nut pine for additional waterproofing. That both water bottles and spoons used to coat water bottles were made as twined basketry speaks to the importance and diversity of California basketry.

Merriam’s account of collecting this basket is as follows, transcribed from his journals:

January 8, 2016: Nuu-chah-nulth Mask

Wood carving was a highly developed art of the Nootka people of Vancouver Island in British Colombia. Houses, boats, containers, furniture, masks, and decorative objects were made from wood, and even clothing was made from the bark of cedar. The Nootka lived in large, extended families, sharing longhouses that were as large as forty by one-hundred feet and could house up to around thirty-five people. Within the longhouse, family-groups had their own areas and cooking hearths.

December 12, 2015: Fort Rock Sandal

Artifact of the Week: Fort Rock Sandal

In 1938, on a volcanic butte in the most northwestern edge of the vast Great Basin, archaeologist Luther Cressman made a discovery in the Fort Rock Cave, near the Fort Rock Crater in Central Oregon. A cache filled with dozens of woven sandals lay beneath a layer of volcanic ash, determined to have been left by the Mount Mazama volcano that erupted about 7,500 years ago. This was big news, as it established a minimum date that the rare textiles could have been left.

November 25, 2015: Fish Slough Clovis Point

This Clovis point was discovered during a surface survey near Fish Slough, California performed by Mark Giambastiani during research for his dissertation. Evidence for its Clovis affiliation can be seen in the triple fluting at the base. Fluting, the process of removing a medial channel flake from the base of the point, usually on both sides of the point, is a hallmark of Paleoindian period (c.a. 10,000-12,000 years ago) and served as a method to aide in the hafting of the point. On this partial point, you can see where the central flute was removed, flanked by two side flutes.

November 20, 2015: Solarized Amethyst Glass

Here’s an age-old question: how do you make glass clear? Glass has been around for a long time, but not like we know it today. The earliest known archaeological glass dates to around 3500 BCE, from Egypt and Mesopotamia, and is mainly opaque beads and ceramic glazes. Hollow glass vessels using core-molds are known from around 1600 BCE and later in Mesopotamia and Egypt, but the technique seems to have also been developing independently in Greece, China, and Tyrol (Austria).