Archeology & Ground Penetrating Radar show no evidence of West Berkeley Shellmound

Extensive archeology at the 1900 Fourth site:

In 2000, 42 borings placed across the site, looking for remnants of shell material.

While no shellmound was encountered, several areas were identified for further research due to a thin “lens” of shell material.

These areas were exhaustively excavated in 2014.  Ground penetrating radar and hand excavation were used.  Shell residue in these locations had been deposited through secondary sources and did not constitute intact shellmound. 

No evidence whatsoever was found of the West Berkeley Shellmound on the site.

Investigation was performed under supervision of an Ohlone Indian representative.


Geology shows no evidence of shellmound - the site was uninhabitable marshland

Geologic study (2014) placed three borings across the site.

Borings showed 4-5 feet of fill soil across the site, underlain with deep estuary and marsh deposits below.

Mapping of Strawberry Creek shows its outflow on the southern portion of the site, flowing into the marsh area across the site. 

1900 Fourth St. did not become dry land until it was filled in over the last 100 years.


Historic maps confirm 1900 Fourth was not the location of the shellmound

Map created by the U.S. Coast and Geologic Survey in 1856 represents original bay shoreline and path of Strawberry Creek.

The area now known as 1900 Fourth is shown as marshland and willow grove, consistent with archeological and geological findings.

That map shows not one, but two West Berkeley Shellmounds. 

The first shellmound is centered at Second & Hearst, the location previously thought to be the “core” of the West Berkeley Shellmound. 

A second shellmound is shown on the Spenger’s restaurant site extending north into Hearst Ave.


Multiple historic maps confirm shellmound locations

Overlay of 1856 USCS, 1957 USGS and 1884 Maps are remarkably consistent.


Have burials been found at 1900 Fourth?  No.

Project opponents claim that burials have been found at 1900 Fourth.  This is not the case.  Burials have been found in many locations around West Berkeley, but no evidence has ever been presented of any intact remains of the shellmound or burials on the parking lot site despite significant data collection.