Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Central place foraging and the winter village: a settlement pattern analysis in the lower Salmon River Canyon in Idaho Public Deposited

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  • Hunter-gatherers depend on naturally occurring resources and, in order to survive, must overcome resource procurement challenges inherent in their environment. One challenge relates to the temporal and spatial availability of resources, which hunter-gatherers address, in part, through the strategic use of space to position themselves for optimal access to necessary resources. This can be seen on the Columbia River Plateau in northwest North America where late Holocene hunter-gatherers solved problems of resource acquisition associated with seasonality and geographic variability by utilizing a subsistence-settlement strategy known as the “winter village pattern.” There is minimal archaeological research addressing local and sub-regional variations in the winter village pattern. This thesis explores how winter economic activities could have factored into the selection of late Holocene winter village locations in the lower Salmon River Canyon, Idaho. It provides a GIS modeling methodology applicable to further research and contributes to a greater understanding of the archaeological record of both the canyon and the Plateau. The winter village is viewed as a central location from which foraging activities could take place to supplement winter food stores. Models are developed in GIS, based on an analysis of game habitat in the environments surrounding winter village sites, showing various levels of hunting payoff expected under a central place foraging strategy. These models are used to evaluate the degree to which ancillary economic concerns played a role in positioning winter villages, assuming that locations were chosen to potentially minimize travel time to areas in the landscape with expected high densities of game. The models are also used to examine how the payoff-related movement of economically motivated hunters could be expected to differ according to variation in the structure and distribution of game habitat. Results of the analysis show that in portions of the canyon where the environmental structure creates spatial inconsistency in the type and distribution of game habitat, villages may have been positioned to facilitate easy access to areas in the landscape providing a relatively greater chance of hunting success. General predictions for hunter mobility strategies and the spatial distribution of hunting-related archaeological sites are made based on the models. The predictions generated by this GIS method are well suited for evaluation by future archaeological survey. The methodology employed in the analysis can be applied throughout the Columbia River Plateau to sites of varying ages in an examination of the economic aspects of the relationship between hunter-gatherer subsistence and settlement, and thus enhance archaeologists’ ability to reconstruct past lifeways.
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