Mobility, Exchange, and the Fluency of Games: Promontory in a Broader Sociodemographic Setting

Author(s): John Ives; Gabriel Yanicki

Year: 2015


We are currently undertaking new investigations of the Promontory Cave 1 and 2 (Great Salt Lake, Utah) collections Julian Steward excavated in the 1930s along with renewed excavations in both caves to explore Steward’s suspicion that these AD 13th century assemblages were created by migrating ancestral Apacheans. Artifacts for gaming are richly represented, including a ball, hoops, feathered darts, cane, wooden, and beaver tooth dice, and markers or counting sticks; a guessing game using buried moccasins may also have been played. Rather than simple recreation, such games often figure in ceremonial contexts, while the geographic scope for commonalities in the gaming pieces is vast, suggesting another aspect of their play. In Native North America, the gambling that frequently accompanied these games often took place between members of different communities with ambiguous relationship prospects, becoming more acceptable with increased social and kinship distance. The ubiquity of the Promontory gaming materials may reflect an "enemy-friend" relationship with neighboring groups such as those found at the nearby terminal Fremont site of Chournos Springs. Gambling can only provide such a medium when the games played are mutually intelligible. Thus, gaming materials can serve as an archaeological proxy for sociodemographic interaction, particularly in migratory contexts.

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Cite this Record

Mobility, Exchange, and the Fluency of Games: Promontory in a Broader Sociodemographic Setting. John Ives, Gabriel Yanicki. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394873)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.761; min lat: 29.917 ; max long: -109.27; max lat: 42.553 ;