Mortar Rock Park, Berkeley
I spent much of the holiday period visiting family in California, staying in Berkeley, which is a city I like a lot. To the north east of the downtown area and UC campus, the orthogonal grid of city streets gives way to curvy residential roads which wind their way around outcrops of volcanic rhyolite and give stunning views over San Francisco Bay. Some of the larger outcrops have been set aside as parks, and bear names which are particularly inviting to the archaeologist/tourist – names like Indian Rock Park and Mortar Rock Park.
At Mortar Rock Park, mortars which were worn into the rock by people grinding acorns and other seeds can be seen. There’s an information sign that explains the site, but it is left to the visitor to find the individual holes, which I quite liked as it made me feel like I was being an archaeologist on my vacation. The signboard itself is interesting – it’s quite rich in ethnobotanical detail, but it doesn’t really tell you anything about the “Native Americans” (presumably the Ohlone people) who used the site, or when it was in use.