Fremont Maize Cultivation and Latest Holocene Climate Variability in the Cub Creek Archaeological District, Dinosaur National Monument

Summary

The Cub Creek Archaeological District in northern Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument was an early center of Fremont maize cultivation and village settlement AD 450-850. Cub Creek lies near the northern limit of maize cultivation in western North America in the foothills of the Uinta Mountain Range. We couple a Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon-dated pithouses and roasting features with a 2,115-year tree-ring reconstruction of August-July precipitation to explore relationships between Fremont subsistence and settlement strategies and climate variability. We propose a multi-stage model where the adoption of maize cultivation and development of pithouse hamlets was a response to regional drought ca. AD 500. Fremont subsistence and settlement reorganized during nearly a century of climate stability moving away from a focus on intensive maize cultivation and pithouse hamlets. During the Medieval Climate Anomaly, we suggest Cub Creek residents shifted strategies to a more foraging-dominated subsistence focus that still incorporated small-scale maize cultivation, but intensified collection of wild plant foods evident by numerous roasting features in the Cub Creek uplands. Our results challenge notions of regional abandonment and narratives of collapse and suggest that flexibility in subsistence options that strategically incorporated maize cultivation was a successful adaptation to climate variability.

Cite this Record

Fremont Maize Cultivation and Latest Holocene Climate Variability in the Cub Creek Archaeological District, Dinosaur National Monument. Judson Finley, Erick Robinson, R. Justin Derose, Elizabeth Hora-Cook. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444648)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.189; min lat: 31.803 ; max long: -105.469; max lat: 43.58 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20680