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Further Study of Artifacts Site Debated : Chumash: Experts are evaluating significance of a stretch of Santa Rosa Road, where a tooth and stone tools were found.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A team of archeologists and Chumash Indian experts said Thursday they are determining whether further study of an 11-mile section of Santa Rosa Road is needed after a human tooth and other artifacts were discovered there recently.

Construction on the road where the artifacts were found earlier this month was halted to allow archeologists and Chumash Indians time to determine whether the discovery of the tooth and some stone tools requires more detailed excavation.

“We don’t know what’s here right now,” said Richard Angulo, a spokesman for the Thousand Oaks-based California Indian Council/Chumash organization, which is supervising the dig.

“What we’re trying to do is determine what, if anything, this site is. We’ll know more by early next week,” Angulo said.

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Construction crews on the road-improvement project east of Camarillo made the discovery of the tooth and tools Dec. 22 during pre-grading work, according to W. Butch Britt, Ventura County deputy public works director.

“As soon as the tooth was discovered, it was carefully reburied according to tribal custom,” Britt said. “We are very sensitive to the work that’s going on out there, and we welcome a full inspection of the site before work begins again there.”

In addition to the tooth and the stone tools, burned stone fragments were found there, suggesting either the presence of fire rings or cremation areas, Britt said.

C.W. Clewlow Jr., one of the archeologists studying the site, said the area may be a Chumash burial site, but that no hard evidence confirming that theory has been found.

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“We understand that there is supposed to be a burial grounds near here, but we can’t be sure this is the place,” Clewlow said. “So far, we have not found any hard evidence one way or another.”

Angulo and Clewlow both declined to reveal the actual spot where the tooth and the other artifacts were discovered, citing fears that the area would be besieged with amateur collectors and curiosity seekers.

Clewlow added that the artifacts discovered may date back several thousand years and could be remnants from an ancient--now lost--Chumash site believed to be located nearby.

The Santa Rosa Road widening and improvement project has already been realigned once to avoid other archeologically significant sites, Britt said. He added that because the county knew the area may contain Chumash artifacts, state law required the county to hire an on-site tribal observer and an archeologist.

The hilly roadway, which daily accommodates an estimated 10,000 cars, will be rerouted again if officials at the site determine the area is archeologically significant.


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