Trail meanders through cave with sunny hillside behind

Cultural Resources

The Conejo Corridor, which includes significant portions of the City of Thousand Oaks, holds a bountiful legacy of archaeological resources, encompassing a remarkable variety of site types and an important record of lengthy human occupation. For over 1,000 years before European exploration, the area was an integral enclave of Chumash Indian territory.  Most sites from this Late Prehistoric period (A.D. 500-Historic Contact) yield abundant evidence on the ecological equilibrium which characterized lifeways before the arrival of non-natives. A rare few offer eloquent testimony, including painted polychrome depictions in sheltered rock overhangs, that document the traumatic nature of initial interaction between the two diverse cultures.

The earliest inhabitants were transient hunters (12,000 B.C.), but cultural ancestors of modern Chumash imprinted the Corridor with significant habitation clues at least 7,000 years ago. The Millingstone (5,500 B.C.-1,500 B.C.) and Intermediate (1,500 B.C.-A.D. 500) periods witnessed year-round, multi-purpose use by a growing demographic entity. During these ancient times a number of site types evolved, including permanent villages, semi-permanent seasonal stations, hunting camps, and gathering localities focused on plant resources. People lived largely in open sites along stream courses and also in caves and rock shelters, some of which held paintings and were used for ceremonial purposes.

Extensive trade networks were established with areas further inland and with large coastal villages, especially at Mugu and Malibu. At some Conejo sites, preservation of artifacts and food remains has been excellent, allowing scholars to reconstruct many details of daily life, seasonal changes, and the evolution of long term social patterns. Noteworthy recoveries in recent years include bear bone whistles, flutes of California condor bones, and small stone bowls with traces of red pigment. Proper management of remaining archaeological resources assures that many more exciting discoveries are yet to be made.