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Archaeology Term Paper

Question 1

Between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains in the western United States, in an area of internal drainage (the channels flow into desert plains, not into the sea), the cultures of the Great Basin developed. It occupied most of the state of Nevada and areas of Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and California. The region contains a diversity of High mountains, low rainfall, and deep valleys, but in general, it is dry and arid. To the south, the Colorado Plateau, an immense plateau, crosses almost half of the region. Because of latitude and altitude, temperatures are extreme. Because it is a very limited area of ​​food resources, only small groups of hunter-gatherers could be established there. It can be considered that archaic groups were already present in 1500 A.D. for the objects extracted from the caves, it is known that they counted among their belongings with throwing points, bone objects, grinding stones, nets, and fiber baskets.

The people of the Great Basin were excellent seekers of resources, the vision and customs of the people was guided by the principle: “If you move, you can surely eat.” In any case, there was the element of conservation and manipulation of the environment; the rule of not killing the females during the gestation period and the breeding seasons was extended. Roots and seeds were an important part of the diet; the pinion centered much of the late summer and early fall activity, especially in the central region. With annual meetings during the autumn, they made communal hunts, after that, they spent most of the year in small family groups scattered throughout the territory of the tribe. In spring and summer, the houses were makeshift shelters made of branches and reeds. In the winter, the houses were more solid, generally semi-subterranean. The shaman occupied a very important place within the tribe’s social organization. He was consulted by the community and was part of important meetings where decisions related to major changes were made. In addition, he was a spiritual guide who played a fundamental role in education and in the rites of initiation and passage.

Q2 a

There is a rooted tradition in the Great Basin of incorporating paleoenvironmental changes in ecological analyzes of the lifestyles of ancient populations, very little attention has been paid to the variation in abundance of artiodactyls during the Holocene and its influence on the hunting strategies of human beings. This part of the paper uses new paleontological evidence from the Hogup Cave to document increases in the population during the late Holocene. In addition, the prey model of the foraging theory is used to predict increases in the hunting of artiodactyls with respect to the lagomorphs, during the late Holocene. Finally, these predictions are compared with detailed archaeological data on hunting practices in the Hogup caves and a more general data set about wildlife throughout the Great Basin. We found a strong correlation between theoretical predictions and empirical data about hunting practices: during the Holocene, there were dramatic increases in artiodactyl hunting. These results have important implications concerning our conception of human prehistoric adaptations in the Great Basin.

Most of the Hogup Cave was found around the lakes and riverbanks, where hunting was plentiful. They were nomadic hunters who used stone tools. Woven items, such as the sandals on the right, found at Hogup Cave in the southeastern area of the Great Basin, were found. Around 7,000 BC, the climate became drier, and large lakes such as Bonneville began to contract. The tips of the projectiles are now lanceolate. The camps concentrated near springs are equipped in winter for the storage of materials. It increases the humidity and the cold; the climatic conditions are similar to the current ones. By 1500 A.D. the Fremont Culture, considered by some as a detachment from the Anasazi, was established in Utah and displaced or absorbed a large part of these nomadic cultures with the collapse of it near 1500 AD, the territory was occupied by the Shoshone, Utes, Paiutes and other conglomerates of Uto-Aztec languages.

“One of the most important concepts of bioregionalism is that modern political unions have no relation to natural ecological measures. Bioregionalists maintain that this human, political, and economic association should be based on natural ecosystems.

Q2 b

Initially, it was considered a branch of the Anasazi culture, a culture that developed to the south. The Fremont people would have emigrated, bringing with them customs, forms of social organization, and technology, as suggested by the presence of ceramics very similar to Mesa Verde in the Utah region. Actualmete the greater consensus locates them as a culture of their own, where the hunter-gatherers of the western plateau of Colorado and the east of the Great Basin, in 1500 A.D., began to evolve towards the Fremont culture. The term “Fremont” is used to describe dispersed groups of hunters and farmers, as diverse as the geographies they inhabited. Some evolved as farmers, others were nomads, and other groups had an intermediate behavior between these lifestyles. There are distinctive elements between the Fremont and the Anasazi:

  • Unique basketry style, which incorporates willow, cassava, and other native fibers.
  • Suede and deer leather moccasins are very different from the Anasazi woven sandals.
  • Ceramic thin and polished gray.

Distinctive rock art, pictographs, petroglyphs, and clay figures represent trapezoidal human figures adorned with necklaces and hairstyles. The Fremont incorporated from the Mogollón culture, a corn known as Teosinte (probable ancestor of corn), which is resistant to drought and extreme environments and has a short growing season. With the incorporation of a species of corn (“Fremont Dent”), the development of agriculture begins. Towards 1750 A.D., with favorable climatic conditions, sophisticated agricultural techniques, and villages with semi-subterranean houses, they began a period of splendor that would culminate towards this period. The villages were small, unlike the Anasazi, which came to hold 2,000 people. In agriculture they used flood irrigation for maize, pumpkin, and bean plantations, some of the ditches were several kilometers long, and their traces can still be seen. Between 1,500 and 1750 A.D. the culture collapses, the reasons are speculative, apparently two joint factors contributed: the decrease of precipitations, and the invasion of the Ute-Aztec towns (Shoshone, Paiute and Ute).

The mobility and unpredictability of the game pieces, the risk that the activity and the low performance imply, contrasts with the sedentary nature of the plants and the assurance that each year they grow in the same place. It could be more descriptive, based on their diet, to call these societies collector and hunter societies.

Hunter activity and consciousness organized the structure of societies, although not their diet -adds to the possibility of sharing meat as a motor to prolong dependence (and learning) of offspring with respect to their parents, which would strengthen the union between mothers and children by restricting the activity of women and giving rise to both a first phase in the formation of the family unit and a division of functions by sexes.

The issue of working time and leisure time among hunters and gatherers has been the subject of discussion among anthropologists. The opulent primitive society -certainly idealized-, in which the needs take into account the probability of being satiated, allow that with a minimum number of hours of work. One of the main characteristics of hunter-gatherer societies is their mobility, referring to the group’s location and the magnitude of the people that compose it according to the time of year. Two classic examples of hunter-gatherers offer a reverse seasonal grouping due to their local environmental characteristics.

Regarding the location of the group, offers two patterns by which to differentiate two types of hunter-gatherer societies according to the division or not within the group itself in smaller camps with different locations in relation to the division of labor. Even so, regarding the time that the main camp remains on the same site, there are logical differences taking into account the local environmental variable. Changes in the group size and location of hunters and gatherers occur when the availability and abundance of the most important resources change.

Hunters and gatherers move between an available demand and one that is not and is subject to a variable density of resources according to the time and year in which they are to be accessed. A territorial defense behavior will be present only when the energy developed to defend the territory is compensated by a high facility to obtain necessary food in predictable spaces, which usually occurs at certain times of the year in the lands occupied by some hunter-gatherer societies. Evidently, the mere human presence in a given environment modifies this environment in some sense. But what we want to defend with the non-control of the hunter-gatherer over their environment is that the production unit makes an energy exchange only with the natural environment, without transforming it to benefit from other energy exchange flows.

In other words, the lack of actions to control the environment on the part of hunter-gatherer societies makes them dependent on the specific (and, in a certain sense, hazardous) supply of their natural environment to supply themselves. When the amount of energy used in the supply (f0 in the Toledo scheme) is excessively greater than the amount of energy obtained through the ingestion of food (f1) the village must look for another location in the the demand is satisfied with a lower use of energy. If several sections of the same band or tribe of hunters and gatherers are in the same situation at the same time, grouping or dismemberment strategies will be adopted for the optimal use of resources.

It can be said that the first consequence (or one of the first) of nomadism is the poverty of material equipment. Those societies of hunters and gatherers who are forced by the characteristics of their environment (and by the consequences of the non-control of this one) to the nomadic life must modify their location with certain assiduity, and for that reason, their equipment is reduced to everything that can charge, dispensing with everything dispensable. In addition, the manufacture of tools is not excessively complicated, and neither the extraction of the raw material nor its elaboration implies a strenuous effort.

The hunter-gatherer fortune is a burden, and it shows, in some cases, a tendency to be careless about his tools. While we are relatively in agreement with these statements (the excessive burden limits mobility and the ease of accessing resources and manufacturing tools make it possible that total control over them should not be applied), the author extends something more and says, among other things, that these people lack a sense of ownership or show signs of not having developed a sense of ownership. We do not consider Sahlins’s generalization to be productive in this regard.

He who hunts a piece must indeed adhere to such strict rules of distribution that dispel the feeling of possession or absolute ownership, but those rules are a duty rather than an act of goodwill (Service 1979). As for the material aspect – on which Sahlins relies – we sometimes find how the individual who dies is buried with part of his material possessions, so we assume that the hunters and gatherers do not lack a sense of possession, but that this sense is essentially different from that of Western societies, identifying itself with what Service calls personal property in a society in which all its components are relatives to some degree.

Researchers agree on the need for hunters and collectors to control the growth of their population through different procedures. Research grants a preferential place to infanticide against other techniques of demographic control, granting in this a relevant role to female infanticide, whose motivations are both the increase in the number of future hunters and the decrease in the number of future breeders, reaching the extremes of 230 / 100 in families of more than 5 children, among Australian hunters… The practice of infanticide seems to be related both to the fluctuation of the availability of resources and to the prediction of scarcity of resources.

Apart from the possibility of infanticide and, more significantly, of selective infanticide, the existence of certain physiological effects in women, due to their main work as collectors. These physical consequences are evident in a delay of the first menses and an appearance of menopause at a younger age

Any absence of fortune has an intention. The absence of material fortune is based on the fact that only what can be loaded is useful in a nomadic society in which the change of location is relatively frequent. The absence of unipersonal food accumulation responds to the logic of minimizing the differences between consumption within the same group and ensuring regular consumption. On the other hand, the exchange with other regions supposes the possibility of increasing the radius of relations and of relatives or allies to whom one can resort in case of necessity, and whose obligation will be to provide that food and lodging.

Minimum material equipment and an exhaustive distribution of hunting pieces for the nomads; a more complex technology and the technique of food storage for collectors. These strategies arise because of the lack of control and transformation over the environment. It is clear that if this is the case, it is because these groups find this lifestyle economical and that their needs are adjusted to their income.


Kuijt, Ian

2001    Place, Death, and the Transmission of Social Memory in Early Agricultural Communities of the Near Eastern Pre-Pottery Neolithic.  In:  Social Memory, Identity, and Death: Anthropological Perspectives on Mortuary Rituals, Meredith S. Chesson, ed., pp. 80-99.  Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association No. 10.  Washington, D.C.

Martin, Erik P., Joan Brenner Coltrain, and Brian F. Codding

2017 Revisiting Hogup Cave, Utah: Insights From New Radiocarbon Dates and STRATIGRAPHIC ANALYSIS. American Antiquity.

Joyce, Rosemary A.

2001 Social memory, identity, and death : anthropological perspectives on mortuary rituals. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association.

Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association No. 10.  Washington, D.C



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