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Lecture 14

Anthropology 2231F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Openair, Sedentism

Course Code
ANTH 2231F/G
Christopher Ellis

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Lecture 14 Part 2 Desert Archaic
Desert Archaic Prior to 2,000 BP
Material is not well known, even though it is a 6,000-6,500 year period
o Sites are small, with few artifacts
Hard to locate
o Most artifacts are not that distinctive/diagnostic
o Points are relatively rare on sites
Appearance of notched points, sometime around 8,500-8,000
o Biases towards looking at the later sites (closer to 2,000 year
Later materials are preserved better
More interested on how maize agriculture affected the lifestyle
when it came in (just before and just after arrival of corn)
Earlier sites are very rare, very hard to find ones prior to
5,000 years ago especially, mainly a climatic problem (was a
very dry and hot climate hypsithermal/altithermal)
Hard to make a living retreated to areas where it was easier
to make a living
o Excavations of certain kinds of sites
Cave sites instead of open-air sites
Caves are usually stratified sites, easier to date layers
Extremely well preserved organic items: early spears, arrows,
fabrics, basketry, mats, moccasins/sandals, etc.
Duck decoys, from Lovelock, Nevada
E.g. Danger Cave, Utah
What we know about the Desert Archaic
Culture history: chronological sequence
o Going to be following Early, Middle, Late dating (Bruce Huckell)
o Early Desert Archaic: > 5,500 BP
Not well known
Didn’t make points before 8,500 BP
Large number of milling stones
Great deal of regional variation
Open-air camps:
Stemmed points, hearths and small pits for temporary
storage, caches of milling stones
E.g. Cowboy Cave, Utah
Basketry for seed gathering, sandals, netting for
waterfowl, rabbits, and mountain sheep, etc.
Structures built within the cave, probably for single
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