Volvon Village on Mallory Creek
Mortar Count: 715
Open
Above Condor/Coyote Trails
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Below Cave Point
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Below Knobcone Point Road
Mortar Count: 21
Open
Below Rock City
Mortar Count: 12
Open
Black Hills Trail
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Blaisdell Trail Alignment
Blue Oak Trail
Mortar Count: 16
Open
Bob Walker’s Cave
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Bob’s Mortar
Mortar Count: 75
Open
Briones Valley
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Canyon Milling site
Mortar Count: 29
Open
Cistern Bath
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Clayton Ranch
Clayton Ranch Alignment
Condor/Coyote Trails
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Coyote Trail below reservoir
Mortar Count: 7
Open
Curry Creek Milling Station
Mortar Count: 18
Open
Curry Point Prayer Circle
Downstream from the Whelk Pond
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Elephant Rock
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Fallen Oak Village
Mortar Count: 46
Open
Fig Pig Gulch Meadow
Mortar Count: 19
Open
Founders Ridge
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Green’s Village in Fig Pig Gulch
Mortar Count: 75
Open
Greenhill Ranch, aka The Green Ranch
Highland Ridge Lookout
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Hog Canyon
Mortar Count: 7
Open
Hummingbird
Mortar Count: 10
Open
Intersection of Devils Slide Trail and Trail Through Time
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Intersection of Molluck and Coyote Trails
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Jan Enderle Village
Mortar Count: 35
Open
Joel’s Straggler
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Lion’s Mane Village
Mortar Count: 72
Open
Live Oak Campground
Mortar Count: 28
Open
Long Canyon and Marsh Creek
Mortar Count: 36
Open
Los Meganos State Historic Park
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Los Vaqueros Log Cabin Village
Mortar Count: 60
Open
Los Vaqueros Overlook
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Los Vaqueros Pond Village
Mortar Count: 130
Open
Louise’s Walkway
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower Deer Valley
Mortar Count: 14
Open
Lower Highland Ridge Pond
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Lower Mallory Creek
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower North Blue Oak
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Lower Village Overlook
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower Village Upper Overlook
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower Volvon Village
Mortar Count: 200
Open
Mallory Creek #1
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Mallory Creek #2
Mortar Count: 7
Open
Mallory Creek #3
Mortar Count: 10
Open
Mallory Creek Village
Mortar Count: 45
Open
Mallory Ridge Pond
Mortar Count: 6
Open
Manhattan Trail–Black Diamond Mines
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Manzanita berry grinding slick with one cupule
Manzanita Ridge
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Manzanita slick
Manzanita Trail
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Mid Silva Creek Terrace
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge East Shelf #1
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge East Shelf #2
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge East Shelf #3
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge Ridge East Overlook
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Murphy Meadow
Mortar Count: 8
Open
Near Intersection of Blue Oak and Miwok Trails
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Near the top of Hog Canyon
Mortar Count: 3
Open
North Morgan Territory Ridge
Mortar Count: 2
Open
North Morgan Territory Ridge Lookout Knob
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Nothing There
Mortar Count: 38
Open
Off Marsh Creek Road
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Prayer Ridge
Riggs Canyon Rock Camp
Mortar Count: 113
Open
Rock City
Mortar Count: 13
Open
Round Valley
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Round Valley Village
Mortar Count: 317
Open
SE Mallory Ridge
Mortar Count: 4
Open
Silva Creek
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Silva Creek Cave
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Silva/Kellogg Lower
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Silva/Kellogg Upper
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Slick Ridge
Mortar Count: 33
Open
South Blue Oak Trail Ridge
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Stone Corral
Mortar Count: 33
Open
SW Riggs Canyon
Mortar Count: 5
Open
SW Windy Point
Mortar Count: 9
Open
The Toad
Top of Hog Canyon
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Trail Through Time
Mortar Count: 27
Open
Upper East Morgan Territory Ridge
Mortar Count: 6
Open
Upper Homestead Trail Knob site
Mortar Count: 8
Open
Upper Marsh Creek Tributary
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Upper Pond Village Creek
Mortar Count: 10
Open
Upper Whipsnake Trail
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Volvon Overlook
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Whelk Lookout
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Whelk Pond
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Windy Point
Mortar Count: 9
Open

Territory: Volvon

The Volvon were one of the Bay Miwok tribelets living in Contra Costa County at the time of European contact. They were a hill people based in the rugged Black Hills southeast of Mt. Diablo. The mountain itself was in Volvon hands. It had been the home of the supernatural First People, who created Indians and their world, and was a spiritual focus for nearly every tribe that could see it. Shamen and religious leaders went to the mountain to pray. Everyday people would visit its slopes for intertribal festivals. This meant the Volvon must have been a prosperous people. One did not just sashay into Volvon territory without bearing tribute for the privilege. Imagine the trade goods the Volvons acquired this way. They were regular participants in regional trade festivals hosted by their Ohlone neighbors, the Ssaoams, at the Brushy Peak trading grounds not far from the Altamont Pass. The Volvons’ preeminent position at the crossroads of Central California no doubt made them a sophisticated and cosmopolitan people.

That Volvons were active traders does not mean their territory was short on natural resources. The name ‘Volvon’ itself roughly translates as “natural springs,” which befits a triblet based in the Black Hills where the headwaters of a number of perennial creeks rise. The highland heart of Volvon territory today is rich in oak, pine, and manzanita. Mount Diablo is home to a number of endemic plant species–rare resources controlled by Volvons. Open rangelands, now mostly overrun with nonnative grasses, must once have been covered with food-bearing plants. Deer, elk, and antelope were no doubt abundant in the lighly settled ridges and valleys on the eastern side of the territory.

Volvon territory gives every appearance of once having supported a substantial population. We have discovered 81 bedrock mortar sites, and over 2,100 bedrock mortars. Each site carries its own sense of place and is an individual window into the past. As you walk the paths that connect these sites and build up a richer mental map and sense of the landscape, you may acquire a feeling for the possibilities of life in Volvon territory in the not so distant past.

There are magical and metaphysical powers associated with Mt. Diablo and the Black Hills. Go there now and experience its effect on your perspective. Steep yourself in prehistory. The Spanish extirpated the Volvons from their homeland 200 years ago, but physically, their territory remains virtually intact today. The land still has a life of its own.

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Volvon Village on Mallory Creek

Volvon Village on Mallory Creek 715 bedrock mortars and countless housepits spread over a half mile. Cupule rock. This village, located in the highlands of the Black Hills, must have been one of the largest settlements in the prehistoric Bay Area, yet it was, apparently, unknown to early archaeologists and historians. It does not appear […]

FallenOak1

Fallen Oak Village

Fallen Oak Village.46 bedrock mortars spread out along the edge of a meadow.Named for the large dead oak tree sprawled across some grinding rocks.Bob and Jim look for traces of bedrock mortars near the Fallen Oak.An oak limb rests on one of the main grinding rocks at this site.A number of mortars at this site […]

Top-of-Manhattan-Trail

Manhattan Trail–Black Diamond Mines

Manhattan Trail–Black Diamond Mines5 cupule rock, 1 bedrock mortar at the top of Manhattan Trail.Jim and Heather examine cupules.

ClapperSnapper

The Toad

The ToadTake the time to play around the rocks on Louise’s Shelf. Many have suggestive, even fantastic, shapes. We’re not suggesting Volvons carved these shapes. Such activity has never been documented among California Indians. Yet a number of the rock formations here, like the Toad, possess a strange, intriguing charm, and contribute to the magical […]

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Joel’s Straggler

Joel’s StragglerOne bedrock mortar beside Round Valley Creek not far from its confluence with Marsh CreekElevation 245 ft.This mortar rock is less than 100 yards from the main trail into Round Valley. Absent Joel’s curiosity and keen eye, it might have remained unknown to us for years, or even forever. Indians were everywhere, folks. Just […]

BOM1

Near Intersection of Blue Oak and Miwok Trails

Near Intersection of Blue Oak and Miwok Trails5 bedrock mortars, slicksElevation 2064 ft.Just when we’d thought we’d probably seen it all in Morgan Territory, we took this little single-track trail and … The mortars here are all borderline examples. They may have started life as natural featuresBob studies a probable bedrock mortarA likely mortar.

Windy-Point

Windy Point

Windy Point9 bedrock mortars, 1 cupule, incised rock.The extensive views available from this ridge suggest this site was some sort of lookout.Heather holds a broken metate at a campsite on Windy Point.

MREast4b

Canyon Milling site

Canyon Milling siteTwenty-nine bedrock mortars, three probable bedrock-mortars.Ten small mortars on one rock could be considered cupules.Elevation 1477 ft.Our name for this site comes from Table 1 of the 1992 report Evaluation, Request for Determination of Eligibility, and Effect for the Los Vaqueros Project.A partial view of the site.Photograph by Bob BardellA closer look at […]

LMC2

Lower Mallory Creek

Lower Mallory Creek2 bedrock mortars and 1 possible mortarElevation 533 ft.Thank you Master Site Finder.Bob straddles the upper mortar of a pair. It’s a comfortable working position.A closer look at the mortars. Both are small cones with hi/lo rims.Be sure to continue up the creek until you reach a group of mortars on a bedrock […]

SEMR

SE Mallory Ridge

SE Mallory Ridge4 bedrock mortars, 2 possible metatesElevation 1867 ft.Doc Hale says the holes at this site are real mortars, not geoconcretions. That’s good enough for us.