Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of late pleistocene and holocene human ecologies : a case study of phytoliths from the Lower Salmon River Canyon, Idaho Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/xk81jq52x

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  • Archaeological excavations of the Cooper's Ferry site in the Lower Salmon River Canyon, Idaho, have revealed a stratified record of cultural occupation, spanning the late Pleistocene and early Holocene periods. The purpose of this study was to contribute to the understanding of cultural adaptive strategies represented in the archaeological record at this site, as part of the larger ongoing research agenda for the Cooper's Ferry locale. In order to develop a human ecological perspective of the late Pleistocene and Holocene environments associated with the archaeological record, datasets examining past environmental conditions are required. This study advances these datasets through the analysis of late Pleistocene and Holocene phytolith assemblages derived from both the Cooper's Ferry site and within the Lower Salmon River Canyon. In total, 129 samples were processed for phytolith analysis from four stratigraphic sections--SR 23, SR 27, SR 34, and the north wall of Unit A--at Cooper's Ferry. Through comparisons of the phytolith assemblages obtained for this study with other locally available paleoenvironmental proxy records, this study facilitates the reconstruction of the biophysical environment of the Lower Salmon River Canyon during the late Pleistocene and Holocene periods, thus contributing to a contextualized human ecological model. Results show that the Lower Salmon River Canyon provided a variety of economic opportunities and constraints associated with grass-and shrub-step vegetative communities during these periods. Findings also indicate the ways in which phytolith analyses may be applied in the development of locally derived paleoecological models that can be used to address questions regarding human behavior in the archaeological record.
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