Diet breadth and Resource Intensification in Relation to Environmental Change

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 16:30
, Lisbeth A. - Natural History Museum of Utah, University of Utah

This project examines the ecology of human diet using archeological evidence from North Creek Shelter (NCS), a site near Escalante, Utah. I combine evidence from dietary plant macro- and microfossil remains with dietary faunal remains, examining this comprehensive dataset in the context of ground stone tool abundance and environmental change. Two periods of increased dietary species richness occurred at 9400 and 8000 14C BP, when people were focusing their subsistence on deer and Chenopodium seeds, respectively. The shift in emphasis between deer and Chenopodium was accompanied by a shift in stone tool technology. The assemblage of chipped stone tools at 9400 14C BP was dominated by hunting and bone-processing implements. Ground stone tools became dominant at 8000 14C BP, simultaneous with a peak in Chenopodium abundance. Increasing aridity began by 9000 14C BP and had progressed significantly by 8000 14C BP, indicated by a shift in vegetation from a mixed conifer forest of cool-adapted species to a semi-arid woodland and shrub mosaic. This coincided with a broadening of the diet dependent upon an intensified use of small seeds and ground stone technology.