Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396

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Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
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Climate change, uncertainty and prehistoric hunter–gatherer mobility
Christopher Morgan *
Utah State University, Anthropology, 0730 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-0730, United States

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
The onset of Little Ice Age conditions in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains resulted in increased temporal and spatial variability, and hence uncertainty regarding the distribution and production of resources targeted by its inhabitants, the Western Mono. The Mono responded with a risk-averse strategy composed of lowland winter population aggregation supported by logistical forays and seasonal residential dispersals to the high country, both ways of averaging variance in environmental productivity. These patterns were reconstructed using surface archaeology, GIS, and two straightforward spatial statistics, nearest-neighbor and variance-to-mean ratios, that combined provide a robust, objective picture of population aggregation and dispersal and the scale of these phenomena in different environments and seasons. These diverse strategies conform to expectations regarding the best ways for hunter–gatherers to cope with uncertainty, particularly in mountain environments. Despite this, the residentially mobile aspect of the pattern is rare in mountains and probably the result of historical connections between the Mono and Great Basin groups employing similar behaviors. Ultimately, this research suggests that climate change and environmental variability condition risk-averse, satisficing economic behaviors focused more on security than optimization, implying that pronounced environmental variability runs counter to economic intensification and its association with the evolution of more complex societies. Ó 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 12 February 2009 Revision received 12 June 2009 Available online 5 September 2009 Keywords: Mobility Hunter–gatherer Western Mono Sierra Nevada Foraging California Climate change Uncertainty Nearest-neighbor Variance-to-mean

Introduction Mobility is arguably the principal concern of archaeologists focusing on hunter–gatherers (Kelly, 1992, 1998). How foragers moved about and exploited prehistoric landscapes is cited as key to understanding, among other things, prehistoric subsistence (Moore, 1998), trade (Yellin et al., 1996), sociocultural complexity (Keeley, 1988; Price and Brown, 1985), and even gender roles, power relationships, and evolutionary trajectories (Hawkes et al., 1989; McGuire and Hildebrandt, 2005; Surovell, 2000). But the problem for archaeologists is that movement is a transitory, abstract phenomenon rarely leaving direct material evidence (Close, 2000:49). So reconstructing prehistoric mobility is really a middle-range problem (e.g., Binford, 1977) subsuming the secondary challenges of identifying relevant archaeological proxies for movement and elucidating meaningful patterns within and between these proxies. This study incorporates expectations derived from ecological theory and two relatively straightforward statistical techniques that together provide a clear picture of the adaptive nature of late prehistoric mobility in California’s Sierra Nevada. It operates on the perspective that though movement, especially pedestrian hunter– gatherer movement, usually leaves no trace, stopping does, with
* Fax: +1 435 797 1240. E-mail address: chris.morgan@usu.deu 0278-4165/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2009.07.004

evidence of stops between moves determined by the distribution of bedrock processing features. The statistical methods it employs, the nearest-neighbor statistic and variance-to-mean ratios, measure dispersal and scale of dispersal, respectively, of stopping places in different ecological zones in different seasons. Combined, these provide a robust, objective picture of how and why people used late Holocene Sierran landscapes using techniques whose logic should be clear to anyone with a basic understanding of descriptive statistics. More importantly, the study identifies how population size, resource characteristics and climatic variability condition hunter–gatherer mobility. Ultimately this research describes a case where different forms of mobility were used to cope with pronounced environmental uncertainty resulting from late Holocene climate change, the implications of which show how hunter–gatherer economic behaviors evolve to cope with spatial and temporal variability in the distribution of mountain resources and, more importantly, uncertainty resulting from climate change and climatic variability. Conceptualizing mobility At its most fundamental level, mobility is way of bringing consumers to resources and is perhaps the simplest way of averaging temporal and spatial variations in resource productivity (Halstead and O’Shea, 1989:3; Woodburn, 1980). From a basic ecological perspective, mobility is critical to understanding how people manage

Brantingham. 2001). 1988.e. Actual behaviors. Fitzhugh and Habu.6 km for tree nuts like acorn and piñon) and to field process resources in much larger radii (as much as an absurdly large 1065 km for tree nuts) because field processing removes low-yield bulk and increases load utility (Bettinger et al. and Great Basin (Bettinger. Environmental variability thus forces foraging decision makers to manage risk by coping with the probabilities of different outcomes that may result from their move (Low. 1998. patchy. however.. 2000. Binford (1980). 37–812 km) is determined by the point at which the caloric cost of transporting resources equals the caloric content of the resources being transported (Jones and Madsen. 2002). 1999. 2006). 1982). at least in the Great Basin (Bettinger. Rick. The behavioral and semantic distinction between logistical and residential mobility. Walsh et al... Patchiness requires intensified settlement and subsistence behaviors like logistical moves and the division of labor to provision larger groups. Stevens. be logistically mobile) and when it is more efficient to move residential location (i. Aldenderfer (2006) explains these patterns by arguing that because mountain environments are marginal. Hunter–gatherer adaptations to these conditions consequently tend to focus on male-dominated logistical hunting. but see Walsh. Mono populations were small (usually no more than 39 people to a group) and widely dispersed. homogenous environments were resources are patchy in neither time nor space. 1989).. a pattern seen in North America’s Rocky Mountains (Bender and Wright. determined mainly by its caloric yield relative to weight. this perspective argues that people should opt for residential over logistical procurement when transport costs exceed the one-way travel threshold (i. In contrast. people should be risk-averse. politically autonomous hamlets along or near the San Joaquin.g. The archaeology of hunter–gatherers in mountain environments sheds additional light on these problems. The most simple of these models predicts that the maximum size of this radius (in the Great Basin. in the Andes (Aldenderfer. Only in rare circumstances do hunter–gatherers build residential structures indicating some form of residential mobility (e. Thomas. Wright et al. 1991.5 and 3. But residential moves can also be costly and are only more efficient than logistical procurement when diet breadth is narrow. of course. logistical mobility is modeled as affiliated with larger populations living in seasonal climates.e. of course. random search strategies and larger catchments have been found to generate optimal solutions to finding diffuse or randomly distributed resources. In other words. This ultimately means the type and quality of resources (or the habitat containing these resources) determines. Barlow and Metcalfe. Because risks associated with moving increase under more variable environmental conditions. 2002). More complex models argue that it is more efficient to logistically transport unprocessed resources in small foraging radii (typically between 1. Prentiss and Chatters. rarely meet precise definitions of either form of mobility. Beyond basic ecological context. 2007. to a large extent. this conditioned mainly by the high costs of gathering sufficient information upon which to make optimal decisions (Bordley and LiCalzi. 2005. the foraging radius) of key resources. a 4000 m high mountain range along the eastern edge of California and an area occupied in late prehistoric and ethnographic times by a group known as the Western Mono (Fig. 2009). elements exacerbated when environmental variability is also high (Goland. 1998).. 1996). Sierra Nevada (McGuire et al. be residentially mobile) to reduce logistical travel and resource transport costs (Kelly. 2002. 2002:242). where resources are patchy in time and/or space.. 1997. 2003. Goland (1991:110) argues that unpredictable circumstances require ‘‘flexible strategies. Ultimately risk-aversion under these conditions is akin to economic satisficing. 1925). or when population pressure reduces residential procurement return rates (Zeanah. Thomas. Krist. or where resources are particularly dispersed. with families and kin occupying small. 1957).g.. Derivations of this model (e. beyond which it is more efficient to move camp rather than spend more time traveling and transporting resources in a logistical round. or broader-spectrum.. 1980). seasonal. 2003) typically equate residential mobility with smaller groups living in aseasonal.. 1990. such as the tropics. Ethnographic and paleoenvironmental setting The focus of this study is the late Holocene in California’s southwestern Sierra Nevada. choosing to employ little residential mobility and support themselves with logistical forays in small catchments.. lower yield resources like nuts and seeds are abundant enough to yield return rates above those of logistical procurement (Zeanah. a situation exacerbated by increased environmental variability. correlating residential and logistical mobility with specific environments. 2000). Almost without exception. extreme environmental variability could conceivably favor increased sedentism supported by logistical forays. 1991). though residential mobility can solve the immediate problem of temporal and/or spatial resource depressions when return rates are relatively high. 2000:12–13). Kings. often taking on aspects of the multiple behavioral options available in the logistical–residential continuum (e. 2006). Kelly. and uncertain with regard to resource productivity.e.. defined by effective temperature. ensuring minimum targeted requirements for subsistence rather than maximizing return relative to labor. a phenomenon that appears to be conditioned by population pressure. Grove. especially when information on resource distributions and abundance is poor or absent (Armsworth and Roughgarden. Variations in environmental productivity result in uncertainty for hunter–gatherers deciding whether or not to move: a group or individual leaving one place risks that the costs of moving will not be offset by the benefits of accessing a new resource patch (Winterhalder and Leslie. Finally. codified thinking along these lines in the forager–collector model. 1985.. Zeanah. 1992).. 1982).g. many attempts to understand why and when hunter–gatherers choose one form of mobility over another employ cost–benefit models to ascertain when it is more efficient to transport resources back to a central place residence (i. Alternatively. the size of foraging radii and the distance at which it becomes more efficient to move residence (e. Ames. continues to be a useful heuristic device (e. and on the Tibetan and Ethiopian Plateaus (Aldenderfer. 1991. This suggests a corresponding pattern of high residential mobility may be the best way of coping with unpredictable circumstances. 1990). Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 383 relationships between populations and resources and how they cope with uncertainty with regard to where and when resources become available (Kelly. 1). mountain environments are seen as highly seasonal and marginal in terms of resource productivity (Aldenderfer 2006.C. 1997:897). 2006). Ultimately. But hunter–gatherers also face variability. Hamlets .g. Simon. 1980). or rather nonnormative resource return rates (Winterhalder. These models predict optimal foraging radii around central places. In this light.g. and Kaweah rivers (Kroeber. The implications of this type of modeling are that logistical procurement is usually quite costly relative to residential procurement and is only more efficient when resources are abundant enough and foraging radii small enough to reduce combined foraging and travel costs (Bettinger et al. it also entails coping with the risk of moving. 2005).” implying that incorporating logistical and residential mobility types may be the best way of coping with extreme environmental variability. 1980). risk-aversion is a way of hedging one’s bets that at least one behavior (or mobility option) will solve the problem of meeting subsistence targets when good information regarding probable decision outcomes are hard to come by.

Driver. and major streams. Mountain resources are generally patchier than in adjoining valleys and other physiographic provinces because of the effect orographic precipitation has biotic zone distribution and composition. Fig. 1996). berries and acorn..5 times more diverse (i. 1943. with growing seasons constrained by temperature and snowpack at high altitudes. with outcrops of granite bedrock often pocked with bedrock mortars (BRM) used to reduce acorn into flour. each producing distinct resources at different elevations and at different times of the year (Table 1. The third is a resource-poor subalpine–alpine zone above 2100 m. and spring and summer grass seeds. but otherwise unprocessed acorn cached in 5 km radii centered on settlement areas (Morgan. on the west slope of southern Sierra Nevada. Gifford. Like most hunter–gatherers living in mountain environments. summer. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Fig. at least for this region. To simplify the analyses contained in this paper. 2).) and stands of acorn-producing black oak (Q. n. Evidence of acorn processing is ubiquitous in the area. tended to cluster around springs. the montane forest afforded deerhunting in the spring. NE–SW transect be- tween 1000 and 4000 m elevation (Table 1). he maps only two (Valley oak savanna and San Joaquin saltbush) over the same transect orientation and distance.384 C. 1993). Gayton. especially in hamlet locations (Aginsky.d. as a whole they comprise large patches that are fundamentally distinct yet relatively nearby adjacent. and water). The montane forest (between 1400 and 2100 m) is composed mostly of conifers (Pinus and Abies sp.. it yields abundant.d. particularly black oak (Quercus kelloggii) acorn was a portion of nearly every meal and is still a form of Mono identity (Lee. Put simply. 1998. chaparral. in the adjoining San Joaquin Valley. Hindes. lithic sources. salmon (Oncorhynchus sp. This indicates. but very different patches containing very different resources.). kelloggii).) and especially acorn. which was cached in dispersed locations and stored within hamlets (Morgan. Hamlets were supported in large part by dried. n. Though each zone certainly contains smaller resource patches (e. oak groves.. Küchler (1977) maps seven distinct biotic zones across a 40 linear km. each compressed into relatively small horizontal spaces (Holdridge.e. 1962). This situation results in the compositionally and elevationally discrete biotic zones found in mountains. there tends to be much more precipitation at altitude. the southwestern Sierra Nevada is modeled as containing three main ecozones subsuming Küchler’s seven biotic zones. 1948. To the southwest. Acorn. 1. Like lower elevations. 1971. streams and flats along canyon margins immediately below winter snowline (Gayton. Gifford. 1937. Leemans et al. that mountain environments are on the order of 3. Mono groups are in bold italics. To illustrate this. 2008).g. 2008). McCarthy. 1932. the Mono exploited a patchy resource base (Aldenderfer. and fall and a rich fall acorn harvest. . seasonal runs of fish. winter deer-hunting opportunities.. 1967. Location of the study area. ‘‘patchy”) than valley settings. The lower montane forest is below winter snowline (1400 m) and contains blue oak (Quercus douglassii) parklands. Subsistence was based mainly on deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Gifford. 2006).

variability and a substantial shift within this regime: the transition to and dominance of LIA conditions. contorta P. Gifford. Qualitatively (and unfortunately not quantitatively) LIA conditions are modeled as resulting in oak communities rapidly contracting. P. Arctostaphylos sp. Pinus sabiniana Adenostoma fasciculatum. .e. 1959. kelloggii 385 Montane forest Subalpine Abies magnifica. especially during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age (LIA) (Fig. 3). Woolfenden. P.g. the density of oak in montane forests decreasing. Draba oligosperma.. The MCA was characterized by at least two extreme and persistent droughts interspersed by wetter periods between about 1300 and 650 calBP. Erigonum ovalifolium * After Küchler (1977). they faced not only patchy resource distributions. 1993. Abundant research on global warming’s effect on North American forests models how biotic composition should change during warm/dry to cool/wet conditions (and vice versa). but also the effects of substantial late Holocene climatic change (Gayton. and more pronounced seasonality associated with increased snowfall (Campell and McAndrews. Peterson. ponderosa. lambertiana.C. This means the Mono occupied the area during a climatic regime dominated by disequilibrium. 1948. Kroeber. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Table 1 Study area ecozones. Q. and the distinction between elevation-determined biotic zones becoming more pronounced due to the constriction of plant ranges. 1993. Paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental data indicate climatic variability and disequilibrium were the norm for at least the last 2000 years.. P. 1992). 1998. the development of distinct alpine and subalpine communities. Ecozone Lower montane Biotic zone* Blue-oak grey pine forest Chaparral Sierra yellow pine forest Sierra montane forest Upper montane-subalpine forest Northern jeffrey pine forest Alpine Elevation Below 1000 m 1000–1350 m 1000–1400 m 1400–2100 m 2100–3300 m 2000–2400 m Above 3300 m Dominant vegetation Quercus douglassii. e. This means that during Fig. Graumlich. The LIA was characterized by cooler conditions and glacial advance between about 650 and 150 calBP (Graumlich and Lloyd. 1932. Hughes and Brown. Study area ecozones. P. since about 600 BP and perhaps earlier). jeffreyi Limited vegetation. ponderosa Abies concolor. 2006). Because the Mono occupied the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in ethnographic times and late prehistory (i. Morgan. Ceanothus sp.. 1996). 1996. 2.

Graphic representation of modeled changes in ecozone composition and distribution between the MCA and LIA. increasing the geographic extent of resource-poor alpine biotic communities (Scuderi. Finally. 5). The constriction of key resources to specific biotic zones severely curtailed their availability in both time and space. Increased snowfall lowered average yearly snowline. 1987) (Fig. McKone et al. Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) and black oak were constrained between 1000 and 2000 m. 4. accessibility and distribution. key resources (nut-producing Quercus douglassii. Distances between productive resource patches increased as well because the gentle western slope (avg.P . 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Fig. 2004. slope 4°) of the Sierra Nevada results in substantial horizontal distance between elevationally-discrete ecozones. LIA conditions led to pronounced variability of key resource production in spatially and temporally discrete resource patches. For example.. Overpeck et al. 1998). 1998. Idealized late Holocene Sierra Nevada paleoclimate synthesis. Koenig and Knops. 2002. treeline elevations migrated downslope. the LIA the distribution of resources essential to Mono subsistence became increasingly constrained to patches exploitable for only short periods each year. Overall. with no guarantee of adequate production in any given year. increased patchiness and increased variance in the environment’s production of key resources resulted in considerable uncertainty regarding resource availability from year to year and from location to location. Resource-poor.e. 1300-650 B.P . key resources are modeled as becoming constrained to specific ecozones and lower elevations. Alpine Montane Forest Subalpine Montane Forest Chaparral Resource Rich Ecozones: During the LIA. 2005.386 C.P . 4). subalpine red fir (Abies magnifica) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) forests expanded at the expense of more xerically-adapted montane forests containing sugar pine and black oak (Körner. Foothill Little Ice Age. in the first case by limiting them to very space-specific resource patches and in the second by increasing the effects of seasonality on resource productivity. Combined.. 1990). Chaparral Foothill Medieval Climatic Anomaly. reducing access to and limiting the productivity of middle and high elevation resources like black oak acorn and sugar pine nut. the tendency of nut bearing trees to periodically produce ‘‘bumper” yields interspersed by years of poor or absent production) during colder and wetter conditions (Kelly and Sork. in lower elevations by water budgets and at higher elevations by snowpack and shorter growing seasons (Miller et al. grassland and lower-elevation nut-producing trees like blue oak were constrained to elevations below 1000 m (Allen and Breshears. 1996). 1998) (Fig. This latter phenomenon is expressed in more pronounced variability (in both amplitude and frequency) of masting (i. kelloggii and Pinus lambertiana) are modeled as endemic to higher elevations and multiple ecozones. Urban and Miller. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Medieval Climatic Anomaly Little Ice Age ? Temperature: Holocene Mean ? Precipitation: Historic Mean Drought: Glacial Advance: Date B. Q.. 650-150 B. TIME Alpine Subalpine Resource Rich Ecozones: During the MCA. Fig.. 3. . The result of these transformations was a significant change in resource availability.

Modeling Mono mobility These conditions result in a mixed set of predictions for Mono mobility. were also critical to the Mono and available for a short period of time each year. Mono populations were relatively small and the resources they exploited were patchy and dispersed across the broad western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Hodder and Hassell. Washburn.6 to 47. Residential mobility allows groups to map onto dispersed resources and to move to equally attractive areas once resources are exhausted. below snowline residential bases near ecotones maximizing exposure to multiple highly productive resource patches. it thus appears that Goland’s argument that unpredictable circumstances favor flexible strategies is applicable in the Mono case and that multiple mobility and procurement strategies should be employed to cope with this variability. Bettinger. the distance from winter settlements to any given random point (n = 113. This means that if the Mono wanted to exploit resources. Predictions are more variable with regard to managing risk and coping with uncertainty. More variable conditions result in greater uncertainty (due to poor or absent information) and potential risk (due to increased chances of resource failure) associated with residential moves. Above snowline resources. In sum. is 3. These conditions tend to favor residential mobility. black oak acorn return rates. but would have the effect of producing meal extremely prone to spoilage and thus not well suited to storing as an overwintering strategy.6 km back to settlements. the key resource for the Mono. The goal in this environment is simply group sustenance rather than storing enough food to get through the winter. Here. For example.6 to 3. This approach was largely abandoned (until recently) due to a perceived misapplication of some statistical methods and a reconceptualization of space by post-proces- .C. absence. 2003). But the environment the Mono exploited was also highly seasonal. ecological context. 2006).. 1974. Pre-travel processing could conceivably increase acorn load utility enough to offset greater travel costs. is more dispersed and homogenous than below snowline (SNEP. Willey.5 km from lowland winter settlements (the shortest distance from winter settlements to the lower montane forest boundary varies from 0. 1979. Cost–benefit models support this assertion. Analyses Archaeological approaches to reconstructing mobility have historically centered on settlement pattern analysis using site types and diachronic variations in their distribution across landscapes to identify seasonal. and we might expect this to be the case for the Mono. meaning residential moves might be used to exploit montane resources outside hamlet logistical radii when such conditions prevail. Hence the main limit to acquiring resources above snowline is time compression. Since above snowline the group is not focused on storing food and is trying to exploit what is essentially a homogenous resource macro-patch. typically using nearest-neighbor and goodness-of-fit tests to measure degrees of association with environmental and other variables thought to condition settlement patterning (Attwell and Fletcher. But variable conditions can also result in potentially greater rewards. Pinder et al. a situation also favoring residential mobility due. site and feature density and distributions. Thus. to the costs of transporting key resources more than 3. marked by substantial resource depressions in winter months. exploitation of larger portions of the landscape has been modeled as an optimal solution to subsistence in fluctuating environments (Armsworth and Roughgarden. Mortensen. and extent of these behaviors.4 km black oak acorn-focused foraging radius around lower elevation winter settlements. however. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 387 mean Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Acorn Yield: Warm/Dry Conditions mean Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Acorn Yield: Cool/Wet Conditions Fig. Resource distribution here. the vast majority of which is well more than 3.8 km. 1972. Bettinger et al. between occasional. above snowline settlement should focus on residential procurement. Thomas. (1997:895) indicate that the one-way travel threshold (beyond which caloric costs outweigh the benefits of resource transport) for dried but unprocessed black oak acorn. with populations mapping onto resource patches as they become productive. however. 1971. logistical procurement and longrange logistical hunting thus appear to be the default in mountains. 1987. averaging 1. hunting and fishing forays. varies from 0. a situation that might also favor correspondingly random residential moves. as it is below snowline. especially black oak acorn in the above-snowline montane forest. substantially greater returns on foraging would be possible when variations in environmental productivity result in increased acorn masting and/or overall greater biotic productivity. 1987). averaging 18. they would support themselves with logistical foraging. Idealized representation of climate-induced masting variability. Variable conditions also favor random moves as a way of optimizing resource encounter rates (Brantingham. once again. yearly. and chronology-specific changes in land use (Bettinger. 1973.2 km. where a fundamentally homogenous resource base is exploitable for a short period of time. Berries produce in the summer. with storage offsetting winter resource shortfalls. and unpredictable circumstances suggest that effective hunter–gatherer exploitation of the late Holocene Sierra Nevada required a combination of logistical mobility below snowline and residential mobility above snowline. These conditions suggest the Mono should occupy low-elevation. 1987. 1996). but see Voorrips and O’Shea. deer move to higher elevations in the summer and oak and grasses produce harvestable seeds in the fall.6 km.67 km. residential mobility is favored. a prediction corroborated by Morgan (2008:254) who identifies a mean 3. At the most basic ecological level. 1979. meaning that combined with low population density. it is more efficient to move residence to the montane forest than transport unprocessed acorn back to a winter village in the lower montane forest. Spatial statistics have been used almost throughout the history of settlement pattern studies to provide objective measures of artifact. Because of this. 1953). but unpredictable increased chances of reward favoring random-dispersed residential moves and a general climatic-ecological context favoring risk-averse behaviors like logistical procurement. 1977. Similarly.760) in the montane forest. leaving the problem of identifying the presence. however. 5.6 km). Gould and Yellen.

the last 600 years. This assumption is based on the fact that markers of Mono ethnicity are found throughout the study area. Connolly and Lake.49 Survey coverage (%) 40. Adams and Bohrer. they thus stand proxy for logistical mobility. 2004. 1993. The premise behind these analyses is that bedrock milling stations are precise. Though methodologically strong. Mobility type Residential BRM (n) 25+ 14–24 Logistical 5–13 1–4 Site type Principal camp/ hamlet Subsidiary camp Temporary camp Processing stations Associated features Midden. Fewer milling surfaces (i. December–March) and migratory game like deer winter in the low county. The use of bedrock milling stations as direct measures of Mono processing and as proxy measures of Mono settlement is predicated on the assumption that balanophagy (acorn eating) was the basis of the Mono economy and that processing acorn in bedrock milling stations was a fundamental attribute of this economy. Residential sites here. Residential occupation above winter snowline was thus mainly a spring-fall phenomenon constrained by ecological circumstances. Jackson. in situ indicators of both the location and intensity of Mono residential choice and logistical field processing (Haney.. Kantner.e. Zhang et al. have returned to settlement pattern analysis (e. McCarthy et al. 1992) and with taphonomic problems associated with site formation and preservation (see Zvelebil et al.57 551. 2007). Morgan. Based on these parameters. they are also associated with habitation and residence. greater than 30 ). a fact corroborated by ethnographic sources. artifact scatter Artifact scatter.00 33. Ecozone Lower montane Montane Subalpine Total Area (km2) 407.. 2008. 2008. The geographic distribution of milling stations speaks directly to residential choice and logistical field processing. 2008. 1998). 2008) and others employing spatial statistics to measure spatial patterning (Bevan and Conolly. Jochim. but see Kowalewski. where the ground was free of snow. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Table 2 Site types and defining characteristics. 2008. analyses focus on the distribution of processing features in a roughly 30 km2 study area in the San Joaquin River watershed (Figs. though occasionally accessible during the winter during brief thaws interspersing winter storms would have usually been buried under more than a meter or more of snow for 4 months or more each winter. 2003).e. 2006.g. more intensively and repeatedly occupied sites contain the greatest number of BRMs (i.e.09 28. 2008). K-means analysis.e. all below average winter snowline (1400 m) in the lower montane forest.. 1993. they certainly knew of most their locations.. 1984. It is also based on the fact that though the Mono may or may not have used every milling station in the study area over the course of their tenure in the Sierra Nevada.96 848. They use data from intensive surveys (i.g. reusing and revisiting milling stations that may have been manufactured by earlier inhabitants (Jackson.. these indicating seasonal variations in residential mobility.. the use of stationary features. Unlike many lower elevation settings where seasonality is reconstructed. housepit. 1992.g. <14) are associated with logistical stations used solely for field processing and as temporary campsites (Hindes. 1948. and where people subsisted mainly on stored acorn gathered in the fall (Gayton. midden (rare) Lithic scatter Lithic scatter (rare) sualists and processualists alike (Baxter. Fletcher. Thomas. Milling station geographic distribution also speaks directly to seasonality of occupation. Residences here were occupied mainly in the winter.. 1984). kernel density estimates) that cope with some of the perceived shortcomings of earlier measures (Blankholm. 2006). biotic productivity in higher elevations is markedly constrained during winter months (i. 1955). 1976.67 40. with some difficulty. almost invariably closely associated with milling stations. The first analysis uses nearest-neighbor statistics to determine the distribution of processing sites in different ecozones as a way of ascertaining seasonal variability in population clustering and dispersal. house pit depressions and other residential indicators (Gifford.” Multiple ethnographic sources attest to the location of lower-elevation residences. This large sample proportion and relatively consistent coverage between ecozones is believed to accurately reflect milling station distribution in the study area and across ecozones. those with 15 m or less transect spacing) covering over 555 km2 of the 1626 km2 study area performed over the last 60 years for timber sales and other large projects. The second analysis uses variance-to-mean ratios as a way of objecTable 3 Intensive survey coverage. problems with these latter approaches center on their opacity to researchers without advanced training in statistics and their failure to link theory and predictive models with spatial archaeological data. avoids some of the problems associated with performing landscape-scale analyses with only the arguably arbitrary conception of what comprises a site (e. 2006.. Ethnographic documentation of highland residence (i. Morgan.48 Area surveyed (km2) 165. rather than say artifact scatters. by ecozone. 1985). leaving little incentive to occupy higher elevations.e. 1992:196–197). ‘‘Annually from lower winter to higher summer residences which had too much snow in the winter and vice versa. Miller and Barton. Ripley’s K. 1932.19 369. 2007. Dunnell. several incorporating GIS to predict and analyze prehistoric settlement and mobility (Jones. This functional distinction allows for reconstructions of Mono logistical and residential moves and recognition of different site types based primarily on BRM counts (Table 2). White.. with smaller portions of the subalpine zone covered mainly due to extremely steep slopes (i.e.g. The following analyses make these linkages using straightforward statistical techniques that combined provide a robust picture of spatial point patterning and how these patterns relate to the ecology of mobility oriented hunter–gatherer adaptive systems. above winter snowline) is poor (the preceding quotation is among the few references to highland settlement). 1985:307. residential mobility. 2004. Underhill et al. however. TCR/ACRS..e.. during the LIA).388 C. Recent studies. 2006). 2008. a cumulative sample is used to approximate the norm of Mono behaviors for the period of time they most clearly occupied the study area (i. a method benefiting from the large samples developed for the study. Burke. The latter tend toward using more sophisticated statistics (e. Premo. They thus stand as proxy for residential choice. Survey coverage was approximately 34% more-or-less equally distributed across study area ecozones (Table 3). 1984).. Gifford.. precluding occupation in an area where snow-free habitation sites were available in many cases less than 10 km downslope. P14) and are usually associated with substantial middens.. 1 and 2). 1962.59 148. Though mortars are unequivocally associated with field processing.33 237. Gifford (1932:17) writes that the Mono moved.. 2006). Larger. Morgan. using faunal and floral indicators (e.25 1626. Stanish. and by inference. Merriam. in the montane forest and subalpine zones.91 . Further. 1932. indicating they travelled to and used nearly every milling station in their territory (McCarthy. Finally. movement patterns and settlement in the Sierra Nevada were strongly conditioned by winter snowpack. Because milling stations are so closely allied with Mono economics and settlement and were repeatedly reused in the course of any given year or season.

variance is high relative to the mean. Site type NN values range from slightly clustered at 0. a requisite for achieving truly random point distributions (Pinder et al. the area containing Mono winter settlements.5 km (Fig. To simplify discussion. 2003. More importantly.40 for principal camps). Variance-to-mean Variance-to-mean ratios (VMR) provide an objective measure of the scale of point pattern distributions and provide a clearer picture of the size of territories affiliated with different sites and site types. though values derived from generated random points are slightly lower than formulae values (Table 4).10. and processing stations. The analysis generated NN values at multiple scales. 8). 1992:191). Using GIS to measure distances between multiple sets of computer-generated random points is an alternative way of generating dran. Here. a result of small sample size (n = 12). As quadrat size approaches the scale of patterning in the point distribution. Low NN values in the subalpine zone indicate clustering due to association with transSierran trails (Hindes. Together. VMR are simply the ratio of the variance divided by the mean density of data points per quadrat. Though not precisely locating each BRM. Ebdon (1976) accounted for this boundary effect with a correction coeffip cient. 2006). 6). 7). The dran value is one-half the square root of study area size (a). northing and easting values were estimated by either adding or subtracting one meter per BRM from each UTM value. The resulting formula. replacing the 0. 1954).77 for logistical sites. Study area boundaries. and values near 1. Nearest-neighbor The nearest-neighbor statistic (NN) provides a more objective measure of spatial point patterning than raw density data because it does not rely on arbitrary units of analysis like quadrats. 1979). Fig.00 random distributions. . to analyses of the site types identified in Table 2 correlated with the three principal study area ecozones (e. Results NN values are consistent regardless of method. 8) (Morgan.5 value in the original formula. The scale of patterning in the data is more meaningful than density distribution because it indicates at what scale the points in the distribution are actually clustered. 0. In the montane forest. these data indicate that BRMs are clustered in 1 km2 areas in the lower elevations of the study area. The VMR in the lower montane ecozone peaks at 1 km. Above snowline. still p used (Diggle. Fig.. indicating winter population aggregation below snowline. from a gross analysis of all study area processing sites. 0. Overall. and 5. Values for subalpine/high elevation residential sites are highly variable. and high residential mobility associated with trans-Sierra trade and travel. Analyses of processing site and processing surface distributions as proxy measures of Mono mobility indicate a multifaceted approach to solving these problems. can disallow measurements between points and limit measurements between bounded points.79. These values show populations mapping onto dispersed resources when the area is clear of snow. 2.00 indicate clustering. mortars cluster in 2. dispersal. C (0. NN values indicate random and even dispersed settlement. They range from random (NN = 1.5 times greater than winter camps. VMR also cope with problems associated with simple spatial analyses that measure density within arbitrary units (e. dispersal and the scale at which these phenomena occur simply as a function of quadrat size. In the lower montane forest. Together..00 dispersal. 1992). scales of patterning indicate population clustering below snowline in winter and dispersal above snowline in spring.. 1. with dispersed summer settlements and processing stations patterned at a scale 2.00 for subsidiary camps) to clustered (NN = 0. a measure of the spread of the distribution. montane forest. summer and fall.50. however.. Durand et al. 0. The resulting data were subdivided by ecozone. montane forest spring and summer population dispersal. sites in the lower montane forest are slightly clustered. Six grids. these locations are certainly within the margin of error of hand-held GPS units and the map measurements from which UTMs were originally derived. 9).g.50. 2001).05. divided by number of points (n) (Clark and Evans.g. indicating slight clustering (Fig. Variance. Snyder. 1959. this speaking directly to size of site catchments and degrees of seasonal population aggregation and dispersal. the histogram showing the number of points per quadrat becomes bimodal. values greater than 1. hamlets. and clustering once again of processing sites in lower montane. NN values less than 1. It is derived by measuring the linear distance between every data point and its next nearest-neighbor and dividing the mean of observed distances (dobs) by expected mean distances (dran) between the same number of randomly distributed points. changes relative to quadrat size. quadrats) of analysis that skew interpretations of clustering.37 for residential sites. varying from 1.25. is: NN = dobs/0. Regardless of method.. these methods quantify every study area BRM without relying on the somewhat arbitrary site definitions used by the multiple studies contributing to the database. NN values indicate clustering. At sites with more than one BRM. 2002).00. Sites here are constrained to the only passable portions of the landscape in these settings: creek and river canyons and alpine passes (Fig. The VMR in the montane forest and alpine zones peaks at 2. the NN statistic for all processing sites is 0. Methods VMR were determined using ArcGis software.00 km2. the following uses values generated with the correction coefficient formula developed by Ebdon (1976). 0. Synthesis and conclusion The onset of LIA conditions some 600 years ago resulted in a set of circumstances particularly challenging for hunter–gatherers: how to best average increased variance in temporal and spatial resource distributions. Results Results indicate substantial differences in settlement and processing behaviors by ecozone. this is the scale of patterning. and subalpine ecozones. This resulted in a database of the density of mortars per quadrat in each ecozone at six scales of analysis.5 (a/n). to nearly random at 0.g. indicating greater dispersal of processing sites in montane forest and subalpine ecozones.04 for all processing sites to 1.92 for residential sites. rather than ones distributed in infinite space. so that at no site were BRMs more than 100 m from the UTM marking the center point of the site.5 km2 areas. NN values were generated using all three methods and the nearest-neighbor/event–event distances extension for ArcGis (Sawada.497 + 0. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 389 tively measuring the scale at which processing locales are clustered. BRM geographic distribution was entered into a spreadsheet using site UTM coordinates as x and y coordinates for BRM location. VMR were derived from these data (Table 5). with some quadrats containing many points and others containing very few or none (Ebert. Together these data indicate lowland winter population aggregation.C. were generated and superimposed over the study area and then queried to determine the number of mortars in each quadrat (e.127 (a/n)).

however. are strongly associated with chaparral and coniferous forest vegetation. Hull and Mundy. these results indicate that processing sites in the montane forest are distributed in a random-dispersed pattern. these data describe seasonal. but also substantially smaller logistical catchments in the lower montane forest. of course. intensive. The current results.5 times smaller in the lower montane forest than in montane forest and subalpine zones. and proximity to perennial streams and trans-Sierran travel corridors (Crist. on correlation between local environmental variables and settlement choice (Premo. Interestingly. 1988. Distribution of logistical processing sites and nearest-neighbor distances.390 C. Previous research in the area indicates that site locations.5 3 6 Km North Fig. 2004). Jackson. 1984. go beyond this kind of determinism and clearly show how populations used different ecozones on a seasonal basis: lowland population aggregation (clustering) below snowline in winter. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Logistical Processing Site Lower Montane Forest Euclidian Path to Nearest Neighbor 0 1. This indicates not only substantial lowland settlement clustering. and subalpine–alpine travel along narrow trail corridors (again. lower montane forest. semi-sed- . especially processing site locations. 1987). indicated by clustering along travel corridors). Pilgram. respectively. dispersal in spring to map onto seasonal mid-elevation montane resources. VMR indicate the scale of patterning within this system. suggesting that at these landscape scales behavior determines settlement as much as does correlation with localized environmental variables. with BRMs clustered in areas 2. 6. 1985. This distribution is partly predicated. Together. stream terraces and midslope landforms. 1981.

30 6224.90 6042. This pattern recalls the most efficient way to optimize encounter rates with diffuse or randomly distributed resources.6 Lower Montane Forest 1.79 1149.40 1.90 1086.83 0. a situation exacerbated by LIA induced uncertainty. NN values.36 1.90 1371.17 1.78 7281.56 1716.30 3103.75 391 NN (coefficient formula) 0.94 0.11 0.90 1.88 Expected (coefficient formula) 1082. mapping onto resources is mod- eled as the most effective way to average resource shortfalls.90 0.48 1209. What makes these findings particularly interesting is the fact that these patterns appear to have changed substantially in the last 1000 years or so.03 9086.44 1.05 1412.75 0. This is the behavior seen in the random-dispersed settlements and camps in the montane forest.18 0.50 2716.25 0.90 4795.80 937.64 NN (traditional formula) 0.63 3606.50 Expected (traditional formula) 1035. summer and fall.60 1141.60 Mean random distance 1281. Winter Mono settlement patterns conform to this expectation: clustered site distributions below snowline indicate seasonal population aggregations relying on logistical forays and cached and stored foodstuffs to compensate for winter resource shortfalls (see Morgan (2008) for an analysis of Mono logistical mobility and storage behaviors). Subalpine mobility appears to be conditioned less by subsistence and more by travel across the Sierran crest along narrow travel corridors.80 6082.73 4203.24 2019.10 548.09 1.97 0.70 1689.70 14631. particularly when these moves are beyond the distance at which resources can be efficiently moved back to camp.77 0.60 1498.50 1234.08 1.03 0.70 2544.22 1.60 1539.80 0.87 0. by site type and ecozone.40 1384.09 1.08 0.41 1504.92 1.90 5479.24 0.70 2091.05 1. 7.05 1402.70 0.6 0.38 1808.94 0.04 0.02 1.79 0.79 1049.05 3511.00 716.80 1901.00 0. This mixed mobility pattern conforms to expectations regarding the most effective ways to average pronounced spatial and temporal resource variability.49 1.64 0.00 2484.52 2524.78 0.18 1703.70 0.79 1. 2006).C.17 5148.80 1520.77 0.78 0. a fairly substantial body of literature indicates that from about 3500–1350 calBP the western 1.70 1899.80 5911.40 1417.4 1.10 4269.40 1863. when low population densities face extreme environmental conditions and highly unpredictable but homogenous resource bases.66 0. Increased sedentism.05 0. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Table 4 Processing site NN values by ecozone. Conversely.40 4552.43 1588.84 926.60 1101.2 NN Stat Montane Forest 1 0.60 2175.18 3256.64 1817.41 NN (random points) 0.90 1697.59 0.68 0.84 694.00 0.00 1844.67 0.37 1.88 0. Site type Site count Mean observed distance 1001. Though comparable data are not yet available at the resolution presented in this study.4 All Processing Sites Logistical Sites Residential Sites Fig.90 1611.81 908.58 1667.81 1.71 Lower montane forest Residential 95 Principal camp 44 Subsidiary camp 51 Logistical 128 Temporary camp 77 Processing station 51 All processing sites 223 Montane forest Residential Principal camp Subsidiary camp Logistical Temporary camp Processing station All processing sites Subalpine Residential Principal camp Subsidiary camp Logistical Temporary camp Processing station All processing sites 28 10 18 84 37 47 112 12 4 8 72 20 52 84 entary logistical exploitation of lower montane settings and substantial residential mobility in the montane forest in spring.47 1504.77 0.40 993.10 1192. as they are in the lower montane forest.12 1.90 721.90 1628.10 2287.30 2506.96 1.21 2266.70 3663.81 1.89 1.80 1412.50 1.58 2149.16 1521.34 1.47 3041. few residential moves and logistical mobility are ways of averaging temporal resource variance in seasonal settings.77 0.81 675.80 5794.32 1581.00 1370. .8 Subalpine 0.81 891. particularly where resources are abundant and diverse.65 1.76 1. especially when foreknowledge of environmental productivity and resource distribution is poor or absent (Brantingham.34 946.82 0.97 0.00 1216.91 0.57 1981.

given shorter growing seasons and limits on mobility due to increased snowfall and even glacial advance. with more intensive use of highland settings and a mixed logistical–residential strategy that intensively exploited the diverse environments of the western Sierra Nevada. clearly a way of coping with uncertainty. due to the distances between higher elevation resource patches and larger winter settlements: it is easier to move people to resources than to move resources to larger. 2009:7). seasonal residential sites being occupied.e. during the MCA. Jackson and Holson. Mono residential mobility.5 sq. adaptive patterns were more typical of seasonal. They averaged pronounced spatial variability of resource productivity with spring. 2003). particularly of the kind found in montane settings. These conclusions also speak to the nature of hunter–gatherer response to risk and uncertainty. From an ecological perspective. logistical mobility. 1983. slope of the southern and central Sierra Nevada saw more intensive use and occupation of large. 1978. This pattern is expected. focused on logistical procurement and long-range logistical hunting in the highlands. 2002. supporting the idea that higher elevations are indeed essential components of montane hunter–gather lifeways (e. Moratto et al. Data from excavations in the study area point to abandonments of some montane forest locales between 1050 and 775 calBP. the basic limiting factors conditioning hunter–gatherer mobility (Grove. in contrast to the strategies seen in most mountain environments. and storage. But during the LIA. Use of high elevations intensified after 1350 calBP. They averaged temporal variance in resource availability in lower elevations by winter population fusion. 1984. ecozones. Stevens. with larger. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Fig. In any event. Jackson. 2001). particularly after 650 BP and the onset of the LIA (Stevens. The way the Mono exploited the Sierra Nevada during the LIA. 1994. the strategy described in the current study developed. and processing sites. the Nu- . 1999.392 C. and very intensive use of these same settings by the Mono during the LIA (Caputo. mainly because they are well beyond the 3. is anomalous as far as most montane foragers go. Aldenderfer. So prior to the LIA. 8.. Here.4 km foraging radius of hamlets in the lower montane ecozone. diverse mobility options are a riskaverse behavior ensuring solution to any number of spatial and temporal resource fluctuations and failures. these patterns support the assertion that climatic conditions are. foothill settings (i. 1984. and especially mountain environments. perhaps a behavior derived from their cultural and linguistic affiliates in the western Great Basin. due to their effect on habitat quality and resource distribution. however. centralized settlements.. however. summer and fall population dispersal to exploit resources in montane forests. 2005). km quadrats. 1972. below 1000 m) and long-range logistical hunting in the highlands (Moratto. 1980). That the LIA favored Goland’s (1991) ‘‘flexible strategies” is clearly exhibited in the multifaceted Mono mobility pattern.. was predicated only in part on logistical mobility. however.g. these mobility patterns are clearly effective means of coping with the constraints posed by mountain environments. Stevens. Residential mobility in higher altitude settings might appear surprising during the LIA. Goldberg and Moratto.. Jones and Origer. Wright et al. Map Showing 2. semi-permanent villages in lowland.

25 0.00 Subalpine 0.634 15. 9.448 21.964 17.50 1.259 63. Bedrock mortar VMR by ecozone.50 1. 10).897 33.882 0. 1999]) to LIA conditions (a period often regarded as one of regional environmental ameliorization) brought about resource stress due to increased snowfall and more unpredictable resource productivity in California’s mountains.647 72. 2007:12–18).448 3.862 23. each of whom established high-altitude residential bases in the very late Holocene (in the Alta Toquima and White Mountains.25 0.814 9.773 24.741 15.863 16..183 0.50 5.00 Montane forest 0.722 0. Quadrat size (km2) Lower montane forest 0.922 63.50 1.50 Quadrat Size (sq.667 4. Morgan / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28 (2009) 382–396 Table 5 BRM density and VMR by ecozone.10 0. Map showing the distribution of Numic-speaking peoples (hatched) and evidence of high-altitude residential mobility (See above-mentioned references for further information).00 2. Though linking climate change to cultural dynamics can be problematic (see Anderson et al.613 10. suggesting good times are only good (and bad times bad) relative to specific ecological context.714 15.981 0.370 6278 1569 387 64 18 344. Jones et al.166 0.041 0.645 2..893 277.273 Variance 0.220 1141.184 6739 1699 424 69 17 157.05 0.560 10.018 0.370 39.007 0.g.600 2.942 86. Ultimately.771 42.50 5. 1999).10 0.C.554 2.810 3435 855 140 33 Mean 0. stressing period associated with substantial cultural disruptions in California and beyond [e. if the LIA is something of a small-scale analog for hypervariable Pleistocene climatic conditions dominating so much of human evolution and prehistory (e. 5.371 102. this study elicits some fundamental observations and questions regarding the ecology and evolution of hunter–gather responses to environmental variability over larger spans of time.00 2.687 VMR 21.g. which per- 120 Lower Montane Forest Montane Forest 100 80 VMR 60 40 20 Subalpine 0 0 1.086 14. 10.05 0.224 0.25 0.043 255.103 0.251 135.237 1832..10 0. it follows that Pleistocene conditions may have also favored risk-averse behaviors.697 19. the current study suggests that the shift from MCA conditions (a drought-prone. respectively) (Fig.000 14.731 2. that hypervariable climatic conditions may favor risk reducing strategies.897 393 mic-speaking Shoshone and Paiute. Grafenstein et al.00 .. This could conceivably explain remarkably conservative Pleistocene behaviors like East Asian core/flake (or flake/shatter) technologies.071 17.00 Quadrats (n) 168.05 0.018 1.603 137.00 2.048 52.091 0.026 0.197 13.029 0.887 0.229 18.055 51. For example.007 0. a possibility that has important implications for human socioeconomic evolution.50 5.002 0..786 36.308 27.103 0. km) Fig.098 1135.182 343.000 13. The study also suggests Fig.820 111.00 2.109 22.

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