Extreme Alpine Foraging: Explaining High Altitude Residences in the Great Basin

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Why would foraging families spend their summers atop the highest places in their world? Great Basin archaeologists have long believed that the extreme alpine heights were used almost exclusively for logistic hunting of bighorn in prehistoric times. This all changed with the discoveries at Alta Toquima (central Nevada) and the White Mountains (southeastern California), where multiple residential sites occur at elevations exceeding 11,000 feet. This session compares and contrasts archaeological evidence from both areas, and begs the question of why—despite decades of searching—no comparable alpine residential complexes anywhere else in the Intermountain West.