AdvisorStiner, Mary C.
Reuther, Joshua D.
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.
AbstractThe human colonization of Beringia during the Late Glacial (14,500-11,700 years ago) is one of the most remarkable events in human history, as people coming from northeastern Eurasia permanently settled the subarctic for the first time and opened the way for the initial colonization of the New World, coincident with the extinction of mammalian megafauna. This dissertation uses an interdisciplinary methodological and theoretical framework to investigate the trophic ecology of past Beringian hunter-gatherers, their place in predator guilds and in the broader mammal community. Methods of study include faunal and spatial analyses of existing archaeological collections, analyzing the function of the sites as well as their spatial relationship to resources, and documenting new sites in the region through excavations. In support of the archaeological work I conducted isotopic analyses (δ13C and δ15N) of fossil megafauna from contemporaneous paleontological and archaeological sites in order to study habitat partitioning within the herbivore and predator guilds. Results show that resources targeted by early Beringian people were concentrated in high biomass patches and that people exploited these patches through highly specialized, logistical sites. Specifically, the occupation at Swan Point CZ4b is interpreted as a specialized workshop dedicated to the production and maintenance of organic-based tools, providing evidence that Beringian people relied on animals not only for food but also to a large extent for technological purposes. Isotopic data suggest that Beringian people are unlikely to have had profound negative effects on populations of large herbivores through their economic choices. On the other hand, humans do seem to have contributed to the extinction of Beringian large carnivores by competing with and ultimately displacing them at high trophic levels. This dissertation provides new evidence of the impact that the integration of early Beringian people within predator communities had on material culture and economy as well as on larger-scale ecosystem processes.
Degree ProgramGraduate College