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Explaining Late Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Provisioning and Landscape Use in the Sacramento Valley, California
AuthorCrawford, Kristina M.
AdvisorMorgan, Christopher T
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This study addresses how hunter-gatherers provision themselves when they have a large, dense population and are faced with constraints like small territories and reduced mobility. These conditions were present in the Sacramento Valley, California at the end of the Late Period (1,000 to 150 cal BP). The problem of provisioning is examined using intensification theory to hypothesize three solutions: diversification, specialization, and householding. Diversification entails a widening of the diet to include lower ranked, costlier to process resources acquired within constrained territories. Specialization includes a focus on anadromous fish as a commodity for trade to obtain resources not available in small, constrained territories. Householding places economic decision making at the smallest economic unit of the household instead of at the large scale of the group. Individual decisions contribute to the whole household. Each hypothesis has specific expectations for settlement patterns, technology assemblages, and economic patterns, the latter focusing on the zooarchaeological record.A database of regional site data including site locations and archaeological assemblages from CA-TEH-2203 and CA-TEH-2634 were examined to answer the question about provisioning that is driving this research. The regional database covered an approximately 435 km2 study area and included occupation sites with clearly defined chronological components dating from the Early Period (5,000 cal BP) through the Protohistoric Period (early 19th century), as well as other sites like hunting locations and lithic scatters. The site assemblages contain over 50,000 artifacts including formal tools like projectile points, edge-modified flakes, and groundstone; basalt, chert; and obsidian debitage; fire-affected rock, and a robust vertebrate and invertebrate faunal collection. The 6,000-year time span of the archaeological deposits at the two sites provided an opportunity to view macroeconomic changes at a large scale. The results of the study found a shift in economic patterns from a group aquatic specialization focused on salmon in the Early Period (5,000 to 2,500 cal BP) to a group intensified diversified diet with a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic vertebrates in the Middle Period (2,500 to 1,300 cal BP). The introduction of the bow and arrow near the beginning of the Late Phase I Period (1,000 to 500 cal BP) changed the socioeconomic organization from the group to the household unit. This changed settlement patterns as larger groups fissioned into smaller ones, changed technology to include some highly specialized tools like the bow and hopper mortar, and changed diet from a broad diverse one to one reliant on a few staple foods supplemented by other resources as needed. This pattern of intensified householding was well developed by the Late Phase II Period (500 to 150 cal BP).