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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Archaeology and California's Climate


This paper summarizes information on California's Holocene environments and presents archaeological evidence for some dramatic cultural adjustments from natural changes. Some goals include showing how archaeology may be used: (1) to help validate models of environmental change developed in other sciences; (2) to independently discover environmental trends and conditions; (3) to add the dimension of human adaptation to studies of environmental change; and (4) to show how natural changes affected particular localities. Findings not only suggest how archaeology may contribute to better paleoenvironmental reconstructions, but also raise questions about the long-term viability of current land use patterns in the far west.

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