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Multidecadal Climate Variability and the Florescence of Fremont Societies in Eastern Utah

  • Judson Byrd Finley (a1), Erick Robinson (a2), R. Justin DeRose (a3) and Elizabeth Hora (a4)

Abstract

Fremont societies of the Uinta Basin incorporated domesticates into a foraging lifeway over a 1,000-year period from AD 300 to 1300. Fremont research provides a unique opportunity to critically examine the social and ecological processes behind the adoption and abandonment of domesticates by hunter-gatherers. We develop and integrate a 2,115-year precipitation reconstruction with a Bayesian chronological model for the growth of Fremont societies in the Cub Creek reach of Dinosaur National Monument. Comparison of the archaeological chronology with the precipitation record suggests that the florescence of Fremont societies was an adaptation to multidecadal precipitation variability with an approximately 30-plus-year periodicity over most, but not all, of the last 2,115 years. Fremont societies adopted domesticates to enhance their resilience to periodic droughts. We propose that reduced precipitation variability from AD 750 to AD 1050, superimposed over consistent mean precipitation availability, was the tipping point that increased maize production, initiated agricultural intensification, and resulted in increased population and development of pithouse communities. Our study develops a multidecadal/multigenerational model within which to evaluate the strategies underwriting the adoption of domesticates by foragers, the formation of Fremont communities, and the inherent vulnerabilities to resource intensification that implicate the eventual dissolution of those communities.

Las sociedades de Fremont de la cuenca de Uinta incorporaron a los domesticados en una forma de vida de alimentación durante un período de 1.000 años desde 300–1300 dC. La investigación de Fremont brinda una oportunidad única para examinar críticamente los procesos sociales y ecológicos detrás de la adopción y el abandono de los domésticos por parte de los cazadores-recolectores. Desarrollamos e integramos una reconstrucción de precipitación de 2.115 años con un modelo cronológico Bayesiano para el crecimiento de las sociedades de Fremont en el alcance de Cub Creek del Dinosaur National Monument. La comparación de la cronología arqueológica con el registro de precipitación sugiere que la floración de las sociedades de Fremont fue una adaptación a la variabilidad de precipitación multidecadal con una periodicidad de aproximadamente 30 años en la mayoría, pero no en todos, de los últimos 2.115 años. Las sociedades de Fremont adoptaron domesticados para mejorar su resistencia a las sequías periódicas. Proponemos que la variabilidad reducida de la precipitación desde 750–1050 dC, superpuesta sobre la disponibilidad de precipitación media constante, fue el punto de inflexión que aumentó la producción de maíz, inició la intensificación agrícola y dio como resultado un aumento de la población y el desarrollo de las comunidades de médulas. Nuestro estudio desarrolla un modelo multidecadal/multigeneracional dentro del cual evaluar las estrategias que sustentan la adopción de domesticados por parte de los recolectores, la formación de comunidades de Fremont y las vulnerabilidades inherentes a la intensificación de recursos que implican la eventual disolución de esas comunidades.

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Corresponding author

(judson.finley@usu.edu, corresponding author)

References

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Multidecadal Climate Variability and the Florescence of Fremont Societies in Eastern Utah

  • Judson Byrd Finley (a1), Erick Robinson (a2), R. Justin DeRose (a3) and Elizabeth Hora (a4)

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