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Ever Upward? Intensification on the Western Divide: Lithic Assemblages in an Evolutionary Perspective
AuthorKraus, Geneva L.
AdvisorMorgan, Christopher T.
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Analysis of flaked stone assemblages from four study sites on the Western Divide illustrates changing patterns of hunter-gatherer land use in the southern Sierra Nevada during the Late Holocene. At the macroregional scale this investigation points to similar behaviors in raw material use and reduction trajectory across the study sites and greater southern Owens Valley-southern Sierra Nevada region; specifically, a focus on a highly curated obsidian bifacial technology in tandem with limited use of more locally available, non-obsidian toolstones. At the local scale, results elucidate the relationship between the lithic assemblages and site use by suggesting the time depth of intensive versus non-intensive occupations. Residential sites in the foothills of the western slope of the Sierra appear to represent less labor-intensive occupations. Sites just below snowline and at higher elevations represent a more intensive pattern of seasonal occupation that appears to have relied on more labor-intensive, less efficient behaviors that became increasingly so over time. The pattern of increasingly intensive use of elevation-linked ecozones through time is a common hunter-gatherer pattern seen across the Sierra Nevada and central California, albeit at a scale that is difficult to extract from larger macroregional patterns in lithic technological organization.