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The Relationship Between Paleoindian Site Location and Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene Lake-Level Fluctuations in the Lahontan basin, Nevada
AdvisorSmith, Geoffrey M.
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In the Great Basin, most substantial Paleoindian sites are found on landforms associated with extinct lakes and wetlands, suggesting that early groups had a special affinity for lacustrine settings. The Lahontan basin of western Nevada contains a rich record of Terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene (TP/EH) (~16,000 – 8300 cal BP) lake-level fluctuations and Paleoindian occupation. In 2008, Ken Adams and colleagues compared the relationship between site location and lakeshores of known ages using a small number of Paleoindian sites in the Black Rock Desert and Winnemucca Lake basins. They argued that sites dating to between ~13,000 and 8,000 years ago should be concentrated at elevations between 1200 and 1235 m ASL. Their research relied on a small archaeological data set from a limited geographic area. To test their hypothesized relationship between site distribution and lakeshore elevation, I compiled site location data for the entire Lahontan basin. My results support Adams and colleagues’ hypothesized spatial-temporal relationship between Paleoindian sites and Pleistocene lakeshores; however, the distribution of early sites across northwestern Nevada suggests that TP/EH land-use patterns were complex and expanded into upland regions.