CAL FIRE Archaeology Program: The Archaeology of Volcan Mountain, San Diego County, California: Conclusions

Introduction | Archaeology of Volcan Mountain | The Cultural Landscape | Fire Management Issues on Volcan Mountain | Conclusions | References

By: Susan M. Hector
ASM Affiliates, Inc.

Author's Note:This report was commissioned by CDF to inform its web audience of the archaeological resources of an area impacted by recent fires. The specific location of the sites are not disclosed in this article in conformance with state law. The site locations are on record at the South Coastal Information Center. This article has been abridged for web posting from a longer report that was prepared for CDF. If you would like a copy of the print version, please contact the author at:


It is challenging to summarize the varied cultural resources of the Volcan Mountain region. However, several observations can be made regarding these sites:

  • The prehistoric sites are in good condition, and have not been damaged by recent fires or fire suppression activities; however, the historic Grand site was severely damaged by fire and is near collapse — and no funding exists to stabilize this structure.
  • Most of the archaeological sites in the mountain region date to the Late Prehistoric period.
  • Archaic period occupation is difficult to identify, although recent studies indicate it may be more common than previously thought.
  • The production and use of ceramics was widespread, and decorations such as black or red pigments, or incising, were common.
  • Pottery forms varied greatly, and were based on use; local and imported pottery types were common.
  • Obsidian and other items from beyond the mountains were used at mountain sites.
  • Prehistoric architectural features, such as rock rooms, rings, and enclosures, were common parts of camps and villages.
  • Although the acorn was a major food resource, other plant foods were also exploited; oval basins in sites located along the edges of meadows may indicate processing of small seeds.
  • Networks of seasonal camps and resource exploitation areas were linked by established trail systems.
  • General ethnographic information is abundant, and is very useful in interpretation of cultural resources.

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