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Prehistoric Timberline Adaptations in the Eastern Uinta Mountains, Utah Prehistoric Timberline Adaptations in the Eastern Uinta Mountains, Utah

by Knoll, Michelle 1966-

Abstract (Summary)
Excavations at a high altitude archaeological site (3350 m) in the eastern Uinta Mountains, Utah, uncovered at least three ephemeral brush structures. These temporary timberline dwellings are the highest structures excavated in Utah to date. The periods of occupation range from the early Fremont period to the post-contact era.

It is believed that the Fremont occupations are logistical in nature, possibly representing male hunting parties. Logistical camps imply a departure from, and return to, a residential camp. Ethnographic studies show that most residential camps are located within proximity to culinary plants to facilitate collection by women. In the Uinta Mountains, residential camps were most likely located at mid-elevations for the procurement of Chenopodium seeds. In addition to the benefits women received by being close to an important economic resource, mid-elevation bases meant that logistical male hunting parties could access the upper-most elevations more efficiently.

A maximum transport distance model was tested for appropriateness at high altitudes. Maximum transport distance models measure levels of efficiency to and from a residential base (or, more correctly, to a point of consumption). They are mathematical models built on measures of caloric gain and expenditure. It is argued that efficiency models that focus on male economic tasks, typically expected at timberline sites, must also consider where the residential base will be located based on women’s subsistence economies. In other words, in order to operate above a caloric loss the maximum return trip distance for a male hunter laden with a resource must reach the residential base. However, as stated earlier, the location of the residential base should be located where women could collect most efficiently, not at the male’s maximum distance. Thus, the male logistical zone (from timberline to the residence) and the female residential zone must overlap, or the maximum transport model cannot be supported. In this case, other currencies, such as prestige and fatty meat, could have propelled an individual to travel farther that energy-based transport models allow.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Brigham Young University

School Location:USA - Utah

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:archaeology timberline uinta mountains utah maximum transport distance models deadman lake fremont period adaptations

ISBN:

Date of Publication:04/18/2003

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