Greater Ancestors

World Museum

Contra Costa County, More than 7 feet tall


Digger Indians Considered Pottery Makers, Tall Skeleton Unearthed

Ethnologists will be interested in a discovery made by Assistant Curator William Altmann of Golden Gate Park Memorial Museum, namely, the fact hitherto denied that the Digger Indians of California were acquainted, at least with the rudiments of pottery making. Until now, no pottery of Digger Indian manufacture has ever been found, says Altmann, and therefore he highly values the find he made in an Indian burial mound at Concord, in Contra Costa County.

From an excavation made by workmen in the employ of the Port Costa Water Company, a large number of Indian relics of great age have been found, including the specimens of crude pottery already mentioned and the skeleton of an Indian giant more than seven feet tall. The skeleton is in possession of Dr. Neff of Concord, who is mounting it for exhibition.

The pottery specimens consist of charm stones of baked clay of spindle shape and pierced so that they may be suspended from the neck by cords. In addition, there are a large number of knives and arrowheads of obsidian, or black glass, which is extremely rare in this part of the state, and leads to the belief that they were brought down by Shasta or Modoc Indians and traded for other things with the Diggers of Contra Costa.

A striking peculiarity about these arrowheads is their shape and pattern. They are notched in a very painstaking way with jagged divisions and resemble very much some of the weapons of Filipino savages. A stone mortar and several phallic pestles carved with considerable skill and precision, stone sinkers for fishing, and artistic pipes made of soapstone, together with a quantity of wampum, are among the souvenirs secured by Assistant Curator Altmann, the donor being Joseph Altmann of Concord.

The mound from which these relics were taken is close to the railroad depot at Concord. The work of excavation is still going on, and more interesting finds are looked for.

  1. The citizen., July 28, 1911, Page PAGE 3, Image 3
  2. About The citizen. (Honesdale, Pa.) 1908-1914 Bridlevale Falls
  3. Turner County Herald, 1911.