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Climate and Diet in Fremont Prehistory: Economic Variability and Abandonment of Maize Agriculture in the Great Salt Lake Basin

  • Joan Brenner Coltrain (a1) and Steven W. Leavitt (a2)

Abstract

Research reported here is based on the stable isotope (δ 13C,δ 15N) and radiocarbon chemistry of Fremont burials from wetlands lining the eastern shores of the Great Salt Lake (GSL). Bone collagen stable isotope signatures covary with reliance on maize and intake of animal protein, facilitating useful reconstructions of past diet. Among the GSL Fremont, economic strategies vary over time with an initial increase in reliance on maize (A.D. 400–850) followed by a period of marked economic diversity (A.D 850–1150) then a return to reliance on wild foods (after A.D. 1150). During the period of greatest economic diversity, male and female diets vary significantly and male diets are correlated with status differences evidenced by grave goods. There is also a clear temporal correlation between the rapid abandonment of maize agriculture and significant moisture anomalies in regional tree-ring chronologies and pollen profiles. These results are discussed in the context of recent arguments regarding economic diversity, social complexity, and the demise of the Fremont.

Résumé

Los estudios que estan registrados aqui estan formulados de los isótopos stables (δ 13C,δ 15N) y radiocarbono química de los entierros de los pantano del orilla este del Lago Salado. El proteina de los huesos de los isótopos estables cambia de acuerdo con la cantidad de maize y proteina animala que estaba disponible, haciendo posible averiguar los dietos del pasado. Entre los Fremont de Lago Salado las estrategias economicas cambian con tiempo dependiente en la aumetación de maize (A.D. 400–850) y despues una diversidad econmica (A.D. 850–1150) y de allí un regreso a las comidas silvestres (despues de A.D. 1150). Durante el periodo de la mayor diversidad, las comidas de los hombres y de las mujeres varian mucho y lo que comieron los hombres tiene mucho que ver con su estado social mostrado con lo que se encuentra en las tumbas. Tambien hay una correlación temporal entre el abandonamiento del sembrar maize y el registro de los anillos de los arboles yel perfil polen. Se habla de estos resultados en un contexto respecto a la diversidad economica, complexidad social, y el fin de los Fremont.

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