Causes of Regional and Temporal Variation in Paleoindian Diet in Western North America
AuthorHill, Matthew E.
AdvisorStiner, Mary C
Holliday, Vance T
Committee ChairStiner, Mary C
Holliday, Vance T
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation explores geographic and diachronic variation in Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Paleoindian (12,500-7000 14C years before present) forager exploitation of animal resources in order to explore how use of different habitats influenced land-use and subsistence strategies. To accomplish this goal, this study documented the full range of variability in the Paleoindian record using a combination of published data and new data. These patterns were then compared to explicit predictions derived from behavioral ecology and animal ethology and biology studies. The results, presented in this dissertation, allow the testing of several, often contradictory, important subsistence-settlement hypotheses in current Paleoindian research, specifically the ongoing debate about Paleoindian diet breadth and human causes of megafaunal extinction. Overall, there appears to be a covariance between environmental zone and forager land use. Paleoindian foragers structured their land use according to the presence and nature of a number of important resources within major environmental zones. Specifically, this study finds sites in grassland settings with low diversity of resources have lower artifact densities and are often dominated by exotic lithic raw materials. In these same areas prehistoric groups made almost exclusive use of large fauna. Sites in foothill/mountain or alluvial valley settings with ecologically high density and high diversity have higher proportions of short-term camps than do other areas and those camps have higher artifact density than do other types of sites. These sites exhibit a mixed use of small- and medium-sized game. Overall this study shows Paleoindian hunters had only modest impact on prey species.