Changes Palates and Resources: Modeling Diachronic Plant Use in Prehistoric California

Author(s): Seetha Reddy

Year: 2015


Despite considerable diversity in plant communities across coastal and inland California, the region’s hunter-gatherers often have been viewed as having broadly similar plant resource orientation. This paper reassess this perspective by explicitly examining spatial and temporal variation in plant use west of the Sierra Nevada. In doing so, the study capitalized on a growing body of paleoethnobotanical data to explore similarities and differences in plant food resource emphasis across six main regions in western California. Initially, the talk will highlight regional patterning in potential plant resource distribution and density. Then analysis will emphasize trends in the relative reliance on exploited resources, focusing on three main plant food groups - seeds, nuts and geophytes. The results provide a baseline to explore to what degree observed spatio-temporal patterns in plant use are primarily a function of resource distribution, and in what contexts do social factors (such as investment in labor, risk assessment, population density, settlement organization, and cultural preference) play a more prominent role. The talk concludes with a consideration of the underlying causal factors driving the pace and scale of change in plant usage, and the social context in which certain plants became keystone resources.

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Cite this Record

Changes Palates and Resources: Modeling Diachronic Plant Use in Prehistoric California. Seetha Reddy. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395528)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;