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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Foraging and Prehistoric Use of High Elevations in the Western Great Basin: Evidence from Seed Assemblages at Midway (CA-MNO-2196), California

  • Author(s): Scharf, Elizabeth A.
  • et al.

Artifacts, features, and faunal remains indicate that the use of high-elevation resources in the Great Basin increased with theestablishmentofalpinevillagesafterA.D.600.Villagesareseenaspartofaregionalintensi cationresultinginmore diverse diets utilizing greater amounts of low-return resources. Seeds from the Midway site in the White Mountains show that the duration of occupation increased during village times. However, there was no relative increase at Midway in low-return plant foods (small seeds), nor any change in seed assemblage diversity once sample size was controlled for. Evidence also shows that people were not primarily using local alpine plants, but were transporting ricegrass and pine nuts from lower elevations. Floral evidence, paired with faunal data, points to a population increase resulting in resource depression and falling average return rates as the reason for the establishment of alpine villages.

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