Social Boundaries and The Cultural Ecology of Artiodactyl Hunting in Prehistoric Central California

Author(s): Adrian Whitaker; Jeffrey Rosenthal

Year: 2017


We use a model developed using Geographical Information Systems software to examine the extent to which the suitability of habitat surrounding archaeological sites in Central California affected hunting decisions for three artiodactyl taxa: elk (Cervus elaphus), deer (Odocoileus hemionus), and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana). Model findings are compared to a database of 100 archaeofaunal assemblages from the same area. We find that the model predicts the presence and relative abundance of elk fairly well but underestimates these same measures for deer and overestimates them for pronghorn. Two causes of the disagreement between model predications and data are offered. We reject resource depression of pronghorn or elk as the cause of greater-than-expected deer hunting as there is no decline in relative abundances of either through time. However, we find that the herding behavior of pronghorn and elk, coupled with social circumscription of hunters during the Late Holocene, may have limited hunting opportunities for elk and pronghorn, leading to the ubiquity and abundance of deer bone observed in the record. The increased importance of deer as opposed to elk and pronghorn hunting is attributed to the establishment of territoriality in the region during the Late Holocene.

Cite this Record

Social Boundaries and The Cultural Ecology of Artiodactyl Hunting in Prehistoric Central California. Adrian Whitaker, Jeffrey Rosenthal. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430891)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14559