Bison, Cold Storage and Holocene Climate Change on the Snake River Plain

Author(s): David Byers; Suzann Henrikson

Year: 2016


Over the past several years, efforts to expand our knowledge of the Holocene climate of southern Idaho have been initiated through analyses of the relationships between bison remains recovered from seven cold lava tubes on the eastern Snake River Plain and several paleoenvironmental indicators. Although the mere existence of these unique storage features would suggest that they would always be utilized, we suggest the key variables associated with such use would revolve around fluctuations in temperature and precipitation that resulted in variation in bison encounter rates. Preliminary data indicate that such climatic shifts were of significant magnitude to have negatively influenced the availability of bison during hotter, drier periods. We argue that this patterned motivated the storage of bison products in lava tubes containing year-round ice as a risk-mitigation strategy designed to reduce the variance in the availability of important nutrients during times of environmentally-induced resource stress.

Cite this Record

Bison, Cold Storage and Holocene Climate Change on the Snake River Plain. David Byers, Suzann Henrikson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404755)

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Spatial Coverage

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