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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Impact of the Medieval Climatic Anomaly in Prehistoric California: A Case Study from Canyon Oaks, CA-ALA-613/H

  • Author(s): Pilloud, Marin A
  • et al.

This study tests the hypothesis that the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA) resulted in resource stress and a decline in health in prehistoric California. Data were collected on the human remains (n = 98) from Canyon Oaks in Pleasanton, California. This analysis focuses on stature, linear enamel hypoplasias (LEH), dental caries, and evidence of violence in order to interpret patterns of growth stress, diet, and interpersonal violence in relationship to climatic changes. Statistical treatment reveals little diachronic change in the occurrence of stature, LEH, or interpersonal violence. However, the prevalence of dental caries shows significant temporal and sexual differences. These results suggest a substantive shift in diet during the MCA, without accompanying changes in growth stress or violence. It appears that this population mitigated stress through cultural and social means of buffering environmental changes. These findings underscore the role of the environment in prehistory, and the complexity of human responses to stress and climate.

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