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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 69–80 | Cite as

Alta California Missions and the Pre-1849 Transformation of Coastal Lands

  • Rebecca Allen
Article

Abstract

Beginning in the late 18th century, Spanish and Mexican colonization introduced the system of missionization into what is today described as Alta California. Missionaries and soldiers, using native labor, directed the construction of 21 missions along the Alta California coast. The mission complexes—churches, quadrangles, and outlying buildings and structures—were intended to bring about a new order on the native landscape by means of the introduction of European-style architecture, agriculture, and animal husbandry. This introduction began the ecological transformation of the landscape. European plants and weeds came to dominate coastal California well before the California Gold Rush occurred in 1849. This transformation had an immeasurable impact on the local environment, and on the daily life of the native Californians who lived in the missions.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Allen
    • 1
  1. 1.Past Forward, Inc.Garden ValleyUSA

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