3,700 to 800 A.D.: Native peoples deposit tons of sand, gravel, rock, shellfish remains and other materials into mounded “hills.”
1902: Under the supervision of John C. Merriam, UC archeologist E.L. Furlong conducts a limited excavation, unearthing 265 artifacts which were deposited in the Museum of Anthropology. Soon after, the El Dorado Oil Works was built on and around the mound.
1910: The shellmound is listed on an inventory, compiled by N.C. Nelson, of 425 similar mounds that encircle the Bay.
1930s: The WPA provides federal money to fund construction of the Bay Bridge, the Eastshore Highway, the University Avenue Overpass and the culverting of the creeks into underground pipes. Spenger’s Fish Market converts its market into a large restaurant and parking lot, signaling the final flattening of the West Berkeley Shellmound.
1950-1954: When a building is demolished UC Berkeley archeologists seize the opportunity to excavate the site further. Amongst many layers of shells, bones and stone tools about 92 human bodies were found, half of which were infants.
1961: Amidst public outcry to halt a proposed industrial park in west Berkeley, an archeology graduate student at UC Berkeley reminds residents of the shellmound’s presence underground.
February 7, 2000: The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve the designation of the shellmound as a city landmark. Among the criteria for approval, the commission noted, “the West Berkeley Shellmound is most highly significant to native descendants as a sacred burial ground and it is recognized that this historical resource has yielded and is likely to yield information important in prehistory or history.”
Tuesday: A public hearing before the Berkeley City Council will be held to consider an appeal filed by the city and Richard and Darlene Devecchi, to overturn the landmark designation. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Way in Berkeley.
Compiled by Charles McDermid