Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Palynological Perspectives on Younger Dryas to Early Holocene Human Ecology at Paisley Caves, Oregon

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  • The Younger Dryas climatic event is a global phenomenon associated with a 1,000 year return to glacial conditions during the late Pleistocene period between 12,800 and 11,500 cal BP. Because of its significant effects on paleoenvironmental conditions in some parts of the world, archaeologists commonly seek to assess whether the Younger Dryas climatic event had any measureable influence on prehistoric human societies. The early, well preserved archaeological and paleoenvironmental records held in the Paisley Caves site of Oregon's Northern Great Basin provide an opportunity to examine questions human-environmental interaction at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Based on a study of pollen records and artifact frequency in the site's Cave 2 deposits, this thesis reports a positive relationship between artifact deposition and marsh expansion in the Summer Lake sub-basin during the Younger Dryas chronozone. While not indicative of a major change in early forager cultural patterns in the Northern Great Basin, these results provide an important perspective on early settlement patterns and human ecology in the far western region of North America.
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