Obsidian Sourcing and the Origin of the Occupants of the White Mountains High Altitude Villages

Author(s): Jason Edmonds

Year: 2015


The behaviors discussed in ethnographic accounts of the western Great Basin valleys vary widely and unexpectedly. Although both Owens Valley and Fish Lake Valley were inhabited by Eastern Mono speaking groups in historic times, their population density, settlement, subsistence, and sociopolitical organization were markedly different. Archaeological debate centers on whether these differences result from historic contact or if they have some meaningful time depth into prehistory. Situated between the two valleys, the high altitude sites of the White Mountains can help resolve some aspects of this debate and further explain the use and occupation of this extreme environment. If the ethnographic model is correct, only Owens Valley occupants are expected to have favored occupation of high altitude locations. However, if the ethnographic model has no time depth then occupants are predicted to have originated from throughout the region. Obsidian debitage samples from both pre-village and village contexts were sourced via x-ray fluorescence (XRF). The results of this analysis indicate that prior to the emergence of the village pattern, obsidian was sourced from a broad area. After the emergence of the village pattern, however, sources in Owens Valley overwhelmingly dominate.

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Cite this Record

Obsidian Sourcing and the Origin of the Occupants of the White Mountains High Altitude Villages. Jason Edmonds. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395986)

Spatial Coverage

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