Archaic Women in the High Country: an Ethnoarchaeological Framework

Author(s): Pei-Lin Yu

Year: 2015


All-male hunting parties of the Middle Holocene are an important concept in the archaeology of America’s western mountains. The dichotomy of later high mountain family villages (repeat occupations of high density and diversity) versus specialized hunting sites and ‘man caves’ (sensu Thomas) are cited to argue that Archaic women never saw, or ventured into, remote high mountain landscapes. Yet the ethnographic literature of mobile foragers contains interesting evidence of women, usually young and without dependents, participating in a variety of hunting situations –- some of them arduous. In these cases dense or diversified cultural deposits typical of a ‘family group’ would not be expected. This paper uses ethnoarchaeological and evolutionary frames of reference to develop expectations about ancient women travelling the high mountains for hunting and other activities, and establishes that absence of evidence for family groups in the archaeology of Archaic hunting camps does not constitute evidence for absence of women per se.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Archaic Women in the High Country: an Ethnoarchaeological Framework. Pei-Lin Yu. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395325)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;