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Alternative Approaches to the Shasta Complex and Adjacent Expressions: Assemblages, Cultural Ecology, and Taxonomies


Commenting on the rapidly changing archaeological perspectives of the Shasta Complex and neighboring late prehistoric assemblages in northern California, Jerald Johnson observed aptly that "considerable turmoil currently exists in the north-central part of the state in terms — not only of what terminology ought to be used — but also of what the different archaeological expressions represent" (J. Johnson and Theodoratus 1984: 190). It was also recently noted (Raven et al. 1984: 20) that the Shasta Complex concept, as first introduced by Meighan (1955), endured for nearly three decades before being seriously challenged. Not unexpectedly, as it now stands, the original concept may be so broadly defined as to obscure growing evidence of late prehistoric spatial and temporal cultural variability in the general region (J. Johnson and Theodoratus 1984: 187; Raven et al. 1984: 20). Current impressions of the Shasta Complex are, to a large extent, the result of an emphasis on reconstructing prehistoric adaptive strategies and cultural ecology in the region. The goal of this paper is to clarify notions about the Shasta Complex and adjacent prehistoric cultural expressions so that substitutions of one set of taxonomic and conceptual shortcomings for another might be avoided.

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