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Getting Beyond the Point: Textiles of the Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene in the Northwestern Great Basin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Thomas J. Connolly
Affiliation:
University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, 1224 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1224
Pat Barker
Affiliation:
Nevada State Museum, 600 North Carosan Street, Carson City, NV 89701-4004
Catherine S. Fowler
Affiliation:
University of Nevada-Reno, 1664 N. Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89557-0096
Eugene M. Hattori
Affiliation:
Nevada State Museum, 600 North Carosan Street, Carson City, NV 89701-4004
Dennis L. Jenkins
Affiliation:
University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, 1224 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1224
William J. Cannon
Affiliation:
Bureau of Land Management, Lakeview District, 1301 South G Street, Lakeview, OR 97630

Abstract

Although the Great Basin of North America has produced some of the most robust and ancient fiber artifact assemblages in the world, many were recovered with poor chronological controls. Consequently, this class of artifacts has seldom been effectively incorporated into general discussions of early chronological and cultural patterns. In recent years, the Great Basin Textile Dating Project has accumulated direct AMS dates on textiles (bags, sandals, mats, cordage, and basketry) from dry caves in the Great Basin, particularly in the northern and western areas. We focus here on the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene, to identify chronological patterns in this class of artifacts and to evaluate Adovasio’s characterization of the region’s earliest basketry as simple and undecorated. New AMS dates now suggest that the region’s earliest people had sophisticated textile traditions that incorporated numerous decorative elaborations. Some distinctive structures, including Fort Rock sandals and weft-faced plaited textiles, have limited early temporal ranges and may serve as diagnostic indicators for terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene times. Other basketry forms and structures that appear by about 9000 cal B.P. persist into the historic period, suggesting a stronger thread of continuity (especially in the north) from this time than is apparent in lithic traditions

A pesar de que la Gran Cuenca de Norteamérica ha proporcionado algunos de los conjuntos arqueológicos de artefactos de fibra más importantes y antiguos del mundo, muchos proceden de excavaciones antiguas por lo que fueron recuperados con escaso control cronológico. Como consecuencia, estos objetos fundamentales para el registro rara vez se ha incorporado de forma efectiva en las discusiones generales sobre los patrones cronológicos y culturales tempranos en la región. En los últimos años, el proyecto de datación de textiles de la Gran Cuenca (Great Basin Textile Dating Project), ha recopilado y presentado fechas directas AMS sobre distintos artefactos textiles (sacos, sandalias, esteras, cordaje y cestería) procedentes de cuevas secas de la Gran Cuenca, especialmente de las áreas norte y oeste. Este trabajo se centra en el Pleistoceno terminal y Holoceno temprano de dichas áreas, con el objetivo de identificar patrones cronológicos en este tipo de artefactos y específicamente con el objeto de evaluar la caracterización realizada por Adovasio de la cestería y otros objetos de fibras perecederas tempranos en la región como simples y sin decoración. Las nuevas dataciones AMS sugieren que los primeros pueblos de la Gran Cuenca, al menos en el norte y oeste, tuvieron tradiciones textiles totalmente desarrolladas y sofisticadas que incorporaron gran cantidad de elaboraciones decorativas. A su vez la gran variedad y complejidad de formas y estructuras textiles sugiere mucha más diversidad cultural entre las primeras poblaciones de la región de lo que se pensaba hasta ahora. Algunos diseños distintivos, como las sandalias tipo Fort Rock y los tejido trenzados con la técnica de faz de trama, presentan un rango temporal limitado, por lo que pueden ser utilizados como indicadores cronológicos de tipo diagnóstico para la fase del Pleistoceno terminal y el Holoceno temprano, ya que no traspasan este último momento. Otras formas y diseños de cestería que aparecen en torno al 9.000 cal B.P. persisten hasta periodos históricos, lo que sugiere una fuerte continuidad de dichas tradiciones (especialmente en el norte) tal y como parece darse también en los líticos.

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Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2016

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