Eastern Mojave Vegetation Interpretive Sign About Pinto Basin  


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  California, Riverside County, Joshua Tree National Park, Pinto Basin
Photograph taken April 22, 2008.

Pinto People
In the Pinto Basin there lies an extinct river along whose banks we found, for nearly six miles, camps containing a culture different from anything we had already encountered.
Elizabeth Campbell (1893-1971)
It is hard to imagine the existence of large bodies of water anywhere in this parched landscape, but exist they did. Here in the Pinto Basin evidence of old shorelines lends proof to a cooler, wetter period when a shallow river coursed the basin. The river attracted life, which explains the fossil bones of extinct camel, horse, llama, sheep, tortoise, and rabbit found here. It also explains the discovery of a distinct human culture that camped along the riverbanks.
Between 1931 and 1935, self-taught archaeologists Elizabeth and William Campbell searched up and down this valley. They followed the ancient riverbank terraces for miles, discovering many small campsites and collecting chipped stone tools -- leaf-shaped points, scrapers, and choppers. The Campbells recognized that these tools were different from others of the region. When the artifacts were radiocarbon tested years later, they registered more than 9,000 years old and confirmed the existence of a vanished people -- the Pinto Culture.

Location records that use this photograph:

Article records that use this photograph:

  • Pinto Basin Road, Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, California: Pinto Basin.
  • Field Notes: 22-Apr-08.

Other photos about Geography - California's Colorado Desert or Joshua Tree National Park.


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Date and time this page was prepared: 4/29/2022 4:13:07 PM