Lynn Gamble

Lynn Gamble
Professor Emerita

Office Location

HSSB 1025A


Archaeology (emergent sociopolitical complexity among hunter-gatherer societies in southern California, especially the Chumash Indians; California, North America)


PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara

BA, University of California, Berkeley


Research Interests

Professor Emerita Gamble’s research is focused on emergent sociopolitical complexity among hunter-gatherer societies in southern California, especially the Chumash Indians. Her research interests encompass issues relating to this concentration and other topics:

  • Economic Structure—including shell beads as monetary and social currency, political economy, wealth finance, prestige goods, network power, transportation, and feasting.
  • Emergent Socio-Political Complexity—with an emphasis on hunter-gather societies, religious power, gender, rank, and mortuary symbolism.
  • Household and Settlement Archaeology—as it relates to production, consumption, power, and gender roles.
  • Culture Contact—particularly continuity and change, gender, subsistence strategies, and agency.
  • Conflict and Social Integration—including warfare, methods of social control, and ecology.
  • Cultural Landscapes—their sacred, symbolic, economic, and mythological meanings in the past and present.
  • Working with Native American Communities—indigenous knowledge, reciprocal relationships, ethical dilemmas, and curation.


Current Projects

Shell Mounds, Households, and Emergent Sociopolitical Complexity among Hunter/Gatherers: El Montón, Santa Cruz Island

Large Mound at SCRI-333

I am leading excavations at SCRI-333. Currently I have a National Geographic Grant and a Wenner Gren award for the 2014-15 Field Season. El Montón (CA-SCRI-333), on the western tip of Santa Cruz Island, is a unique Early Period site and is essential in understanding the early emergence of sociopolitical complexity in the region, a major research objective. Situated 8-10 meters above the marine terrace, El Montón is the largest extant shell mound in the Santa Barbara Channel area and a prominent feature on the landscape, visible from sites over 8 km away on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. Over 43 house depressions are visible on the surface, more than any other archaeological site on the islands or mainland. The site was occupied between about 6000-2300 BP. Features recently excavated at the site include a red abalone and whale bone feature, a large rock oven, and burned house deposits. The significance of El Montón combined with multiple sources of data make it an ideal site to investigate origins of sociopolitical complexity not only among hunter-gatherers-fishers in southern California, but in a broader world-wide perspective.


Field Crew 2013 Season


Above, Lynn Gamble recording on left, burned rock feature on right

Below, geologist Alex Simms and Gamble examining core, red ablone and whale bone feature, and house deposits


Most photos from 2013 Season by Macduff Everton


Selected Publications

2012 - Gamble, Lynn H. A Land of Power: The Materiality of Wealth, Knowledge, Authority, and the Supernatural. In Contemporary Issues in California Archaeology, edited by T.L. Jones and J.E.
Perry, pp. 175-196. Left Coast Press

2012 - Gamble, Lynn H. and Scott Mattingly  "Pine Nut Processing in Southern California: Is the Absence of Evidence the Evidence of Absence?" American Antiquity 77(2):263-278.

2011 - Gamble, Lynn H. "Structural Transformation and Innovation in Emergent Economies of Southern California," Chapter 12. In Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology as Historical Process, edited by Kenneth E. Sassaman and Donald H. Holly, pp. 227-247. University of Arizona Press, Tuscon.

2011 - Gamble, Lynn H. and Chester King  Beads and Ornaments from San Diego: Evidence for Exchange Networks in Southern California and the American Southwest. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. 31(2):155-178.  

2008 - Gamble, Lynn H. The Chumash World at European Contact: Power, Trade, and Feasting among Complex Hunter-Gatherers. University of California Press, Berkeley.


2008 - Gamble, Lynn H. and Michael Wilken-Robertson. Kumeyaay Cultural Landscapes of Baja California’s Tijuana River Watershed. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. 28(2):127-151.

2007 - Glassow, Michael A., Lynn H. Gamble, Jennifer E. Perry, and Glenn S. Russell. Prehistory of the Northern California Bight and the Adjacent Transverse Ranges, Chapter 13. In California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity, edited by Terry L. Jones and Kathryn A. Klar, pp. 191-213. AltaMira Press, Lanham, MD.

2005 - Gamble, Lynn H. Culture and Climate: Reconsidering the Effect of Palaeoclimatic Variability among Southern California Hunter-Gatherer Societies. World Archaeology 37(1):92-108.

2003 - Gamble, Lynn H. Obstacles to Site Preservation in the United States, Chapter 19. In Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology: Old World and New World Perspectives, edited by John K. Papadopoulos and Richard M. Leventhal, pp. 285-297. UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Publications, Los Angeles.

2002 - Gamble, Lynn H. Archaeological Evidence for the Origin of the Plank Canoe in North America. American Antiquity 67(2):301-315

2002 - Gamble, Lynn H. and Irma Carmen Zepeda Social Differentiation and Exchange among the Kumeyaay Indians during the Historic Period. Historical Archaeology, 36(2):71-91

2002 - Gamble, Lynn H. and Glenn S. Russell. A View from the Mainland: Late Holocene Cultural Developments Among the Ventureño Chumash and the Tongva, Chapter 7. In Catalysts to Complexity: Late Holocene Societies of the California Coast, edited by Jon M. Erlandson and Terry Jones, pp 101-126. UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Publications.

2002 - Gamble, Lynn H. Fact or Forgery: Dilemmas in Museum Collections. Museum Anthropology 25(2):3-20.

2002 - Gamble, Lynn H., Phillip L. Walker and Glenn S. Russell. Further Considerations on the Emergence of Chumash Chiefdoms. American Antiquity 67(4):772-777.

2001 - Gamble, Lynn H., Phillip L. Walker, and Glenn S. Russell. An Integrative Approach to Mortuary Analysis: Social and Symbolic Dimensions of Chumash Burial Practices. American Antiquity 66(2):185-212.

1997 - Gamble, Lynn H. and Chester King. Middle Holocene Adaptations in the Santa Monica Mountains. In Archaeology of the California Coast During the Middle Holocene. Edited by Jon M. Erlandson and Michael A. Glassow, pp. 61-72. UCLA Institute of Archaeology Publications.

1995 - Gamble, Lynn. Chumash Architecture: Sweatlodges and Houses. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 17(1):54-92