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Modeling Modes of Hunter-Gatherer Food Storage

  • Christopher Morgan (a1)


Analyses of the capacity and rates of different acorn storage techniques employed by the Western Mono of California’s Sierra Nevada during the very late Holacene indicate hunter-gatherers store food in at least three main modes: central-place storage, dispersed caching, and dispersed bulk caching. The advantage of caching modes over central-place ones is that they entail faster storage rates and thus the chance to maximize storage capacity when seasonality and scheduling conflicts limit storing opportunities. They also result in predictable stores of acorn separate from winter population aggregations but oftentimes near seasonally occupied camps. Central-place storage thus appears most directly related to coping with single-year seasonal variability in environmental productivity and sedentary overwintering strategies; caching, and especially bulk caching, with multi-year environmental unpredictability, overwintering and seasonal residential moves. Storage thus appears to generally develop as a response to seasonality and unpredictable environmental productivity, but its various forms are conditioned mainly by how they articulate with different mobility types. Complex Mono storage behaviors, however, were associated with regionally low population densities and relatively uncomplicated social structures nonetheless characterized by chiefs who maintained their positions by throwing feasts of stored acorn. The connections between storage, population density, and sociocultural complexity thus appear less direct and predicated on specific sociopolitical circumstance. Recognizing different modes of hunter-gatherer storage is consequently critical to assessing the roles ecology, mobility, group size, and social distinctions play in the development of disparate storage behaviors.


Un análisis de la capacidad e índices de las técnicas de amontonar bellotas empleados por el pueblo Mono del oeste de la Sierra Nevada de California durante el bajo Holoceno indica que cazadores-recolectores amontan la comida en por lo menos tres maneras: almacenaje en lugares centrales, la acumulación en lugares dispersados y la acumulación dispersado pero en bulto. La ventaja de estos modos de acumulación sobre el simple almacenaje es que producen índices más rápidos de amontonamiento y por tanto la oportunidad de maximizar la capacidad de almacenar cuando conflictos de variación estacional y conflictos en el horario de actividades limitan las oportunidades de amontonar. Estos modos de acumulaciim resultan tambien en provisiones previstas de bellotas que son alejados de las agrupaciones de la población invernal mientras que son muchas veces más cerca a los campamentos ocupados temporalmente por estaciones específicas. El almacenaje en lugares centrales aparece más directamente relacionado a solucionar el problema de la variabilidad estacional de la producción ecológica que ocurre en un solo año tanto como estrategias sedentarias para pasar el invierno mientras el amontonamiento, y especialmente el amontonar en bulto corresponde a unas imprevisibilidades ecológicas multianuales, tanto como el hecho de pasar el invierno y los movimientos residenciales estacionales. Parece que el amontonamiento dentro del pueblo Mono se encuentra generalmente como respuesta a cambios estacionales y a una productividad ecológica imprevista, pero sus varias formas son mayormente condicionadas de acuerdo a su articulación con tipos de movilidad que son diferentes. Su conexión a la densidadpoblacional y la complexidad sociocultural, sin embargo, parece desarrollar de manera empírica, predicado de acuerdo a las circunstancias específicas sociopolíticas e históricas en que se encuentre el grupo. Es crítica, por consecuen-eia, reconocer los modos diferentes de amontonamiento practicados por los cazadores-recolectores para poder evaluar los papeles jugados por la ecología, la movilidad, el tamaño del grupo, y las distinciones sociales en la evolúcióm y el desarrollo histórico de los comportamientos distintos de amontonamiento.



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