Date of Award:

2013

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Bonnie L Pitblado

Abstract

This thesis presents the results from archaeological test excavations at site 5GN1.2. The focus of this research is to evaluate Stiger's Late Prehistoric settlement-subsistence hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, post-3000 B.P. occupations of the Upper Gunnison Basin were limited to logistically organized big-game hunting forays originating from residential camps located outside of the basin. Since Stiger's model is based on Binford's forager-collector continuum model, archaeological test implications of his hypothesis include hunter-gatherer settlement mobility, site types, feature types, artifact assemblage characteristics, and the organization of lithic technology.

Test excavations at 5GN1.2 revealed intact archaeological deposits reflecting aboriginal occupation during the Late Prehistoric between about 3000 and 1300 B.P. Late Prehistoric features include four hearths associated with abundant debitage, small-game faunal remains, burnt seeds, and lithic tools. Identified lithic tools include ground stone, projectile point fragments, cores, and bifaces. Individual flake attribute analysis of the debitage assemblage provides evidence lithic reduction activities were dominated by bifacial reduction of local and non-local raw materials.

Archaeological evidence rules out site 5GN1.2 as a Late Prehistoric logistical big-game hunting site. Site 5GN1.2 contains all the hallmarks of a residential base camp, including constructed hearths, rock art, evidence of plant resource processing, small-game procurement, comparatively high tool diversity, high proportion of locally available tool-stone, late-stage tool manufacture, and tool maintenance debitage. Site 5GN1.2 likely served as a short-term residential base camp occupied by whole family groups during the Late Prehistoric.

The Late Prehistoric occupations of site 5GN1.2 represent a more diverse settlement-subsistence adaptation than envisioned by Stiger's culture history. Some hunter-gatherers may have occupied the UGB on long-range logistical big-game hunting forays, but at 5GN1.2 this is simply not the case. This lithic technology research project represents the first published comprehensive debitage analysis of an archaeological component at 5GN1.2 and 5GN1. These results and data can serve as a database for later archaeological research within the UGB.

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