People, pests, and prey: The emergence of agricultural economies in the desert Southwest
AuthorDean, Rebecca M.
AdvisorStiner, Mary C.
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.
AbstractRecent excavations at large Early Agricultural Period village sites in Tucson, Arizona have greatly increased archaeological knowledge about the introduction of agriculture into the U.S. Southwest. The sites of Los Pozos (AZ AA:12:91 [ASM]), Las Capas (AZ AA:12:111 [ASM]), and AZ AA:12:92 (ASM) yielded very large faunal assemblages dating to the Middle Archaic, San Pedro, Early Cienega, and Late Cienega phases, spanning the introduction of Mesoamerican domesticates. This dissertation compares the fauna from these sites to a large database of published faunal material from sites dating to the Middle Archaic through Classic Hohokam periods in southern Arizona. Faunal assemblages provide an important body of data on the social and economic changes that occurred before, during, and after the introduction of agriculture into this region. Farming societies developed within the context of small animal dominated hunting economies, with a strong focus on cottontail rabbits ( Sylvilagus sp.) and jackrabbits (Lepus sp.) as the protein staple. Intensification of agricultural and hunting strategies throughout the Hohokam sequence is reflected in the impact that growing human populations had on the environment surrounding their villages and fields, which can be seen through changes in the relative proportions and ubiquity of small animals, especially rodents. Hunting intensification mirrors these changes, with significant increases in diet breadth occurring before the introduction of agriculture and during the Sedentary and Classic periods, corresponding with the highest prehistoric populations. Increases in diet breadth can be seen in the use of low-ranked taxa, such as fish and birds, and also in the willingness of hunters to travel greater distances in the search of large game, especially deer (Odocoileus sp.) and bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) from upland environments. Large village sites from the Early Agricultural Period suggest that fully agricultural communities developed very early on the floodplains of southern Arizona. Although these societies emerged out of intensive Middle Archaic hunting adaptations, it is not until the Sedentary and Classic periods that the faunal evidence points to any further increase in site-use intensity and diet breadth, suggesting that even these large early villages had economic and landscape-use patterns similar to Middle Archaic foragers.
Degree ProgramGraduate College