will test samples, which archaeologist expects to date back
to Ice Age...
Samples from rock
stacks on the Sonoma Coast will be sent to a Texas
university for radiocarbon testing, part of an effort to
prove the rocks served as prehistoric scratching posts for
The scratching left the rocks with a polish that is still
"If I am right and the polish came from mammoths, they will
be able to extract carbon and date it," state archaeologist
Breck Parkman said. "They should date to 15,000 to
30,000 years ago, the end of the last Ice Age."
The tests at Texas A&M University are being underwritten by
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, a Guerneville-based
group that usually funds such programs as whale- and
It is the first time the group is funding archaeology work.
Parkman "is finding things that date back thousands and
thousands of years and are very exciting," said Michele
Luna, executive director for the stewards. "We feel
compelled to support what he is doing, it is so significant
for the coast."
The group will spend about $120,000 this year on programs to
help state parks, such as training 300 volunteers to lead
nature walks at Armstrong Grove and Austin Creek, and whale-
and seal-watching trips and tours of tide pools.
A small amount, $2,000, will be spent by the 20-year-old
group to help fund Parkman's work.
Parkman said if his theory is correct, Texas A&M scientists
should be able to find and extract some microscopic traces
of carbon using a new process that was pioneered at that
"We are slowly building our case," Parkman said.
"Unless we find mammoth hair in the polish or invent a time
machine to go back and watch a mammoth in the act, someone
will always be able to doubt our theory. But we have
evidence enough that we could convict a mammoth in court."
Two years ago, Parkman discovered that Sunset Rock, a
popular practice site for climbers, has a polished finish on
much of the outside surface from the ground to a height of
He attributes it to Columbian mammoths and mastodons using
the rocks as posts to scratch, which is common animal
behavior that can be seen today with buffalo, horses and
Since then, he has found seven other blueschist rocks within
a mile of the 60-foot-high rock with similar markings.
Excavations have found the polish extends six feet under the
surface, which is the amount of soil that would have built
up around the rocks during the intervening thousands of
Herds of mammoths, mastodons and prehistoric horses are
known to have frequented the coastal area, which was once a
vast grassland and would have been seven miles from the
Mammoth bones have been discovered not far away at Bodega
Using an electron microscope at Sonoma State University,
Parkman said experts have ruled out the possibility the
polishing on the rock was due to wind or water.
*The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa,
California, Saturday, May 14, 2005. You can reach
Staff Writer Bob Norberg at