Shifting Climate, Shifting Strategies: Flexibility as Key to the Longevity of Early Farming Communities in the American Southwest, A Case Study from the Tucson Basin

Sinensky R.J. - University of California Los Angeles

Although the majority of the archaeological research on agricultural transitions has focused on primary places of plant domestication, most people adopted agriculture in a secondary fashion. My research examines how early farming groups located in secondary locales of domestication navigated the risks and benefits of agriculture and increasing sedentism. Early farming communities in the American Southwest quickly incorporated cultigens into their diet, but wild plant foods continued to play a significant role in the subsistence economy. Maintaining a flexible subsistence strategy was key for the survival and longevity of early farmers in the American Southwest. My research explores how San Pedro Phase (1200-800 BC) farmers living in the village of Las Capas, located in the Tucson Basin, navigated stochastic environmental conditions. I investigate the resource procurement strategies of residents during time periods both conducive and detrimental to irrigation agriculture to explore the risk management strategies employed by Las Capas residents.