Free or Despotic? The Distribution of Hunter-Gatherer Ethnolinguistic Groups in California

Author(s): Timothy Dennehy

Year: 2015


How do hunter-gatherers divide their landscape into territories? In this paper, I will delve into results from a prior study showing a significant difference in territory size between coastal and inland groups in California (Dennehy et al. 2014). I will first simulate territory sizes and locations using an Agent-Based Model (ABM) of hunter-gatherer bands. The model will draw on human behavioral ecology to simulate distribution of foraging groups under three different conditions of social organization: an Ideal Free Distribution (IFD), Ideal Despotic Distribution (IDD), and a hybrid where both forms are possible. "Ideal" here refers to agents that have perfect knowledge of the suitability of different patches in their environment. Such agents are "free" when they can come and go from any patch as they please; they are "despotic" in cases where social hierarchies exist that allow a patch’s current inhabitants to successfully defend it from newcomers. I expect each condition to produce a different distribution of forager groups, visualized as maps of simulated territories. I will then compare these maps to that created by Alfred Kroeber (1922) to test which condition more accurately matches the known distribution of California foragers.

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

Free or Despotic? The Distribution of Hunter-Gatherer Ethnolinguistic Groups in California. Timothy Dennehy. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398314)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

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