Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology and Anthropology

Department name when degree awarded

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Judson Byrd Finley


Judson Byrd Finley


Molly Boeka Cannon


David Byers


Archaeologists describe the Uinta Fremont (A.D. 0 – 1300) as a mixed foraging-farming society that underwent a dramatic social change from A.D. 700 – 1000. Researchers observe through different architectural styles and subsistence activity a change from large, aggregated settlements to more dispersed and defensively oriented villages and hamlets. The Ideal Free Distribution (IFD) model provides an explanatory framework through which to interpret these changes. IFD predicts the order in which people or animals will occupy habitats based on a habitat’s relative suitability and suggests hypothetical behaviors that people or animals might engage in to improve or maintain the relative suitability of a habitat. One prediction of IFD is that behaviors indicating resource competition will become more frequent when population density increases. I test whether this hypothesis explains changes in storage features by considering storage behavior as a manifestation of resource competition, and I investigate whether storage feature frequency correlates with periods of Fremont population increases and paleoenvironmental degradation.

These tests explain aspects of Fremont culture change and suggest future research possibilities. Storage feature frequency, representing resource competition, remains low from A.D. 0 – 700, suggesting that the habitats could absorb growing Fremont populations. After A.D. 700, however, resource competition rose and remained high, a condition that likely spurred the defensive architecture and dispersed settlements that became increasingly common after A.D. 1000. The successes and limitations of applying IFD to the archaeological record point the way toward future uses of the model to investigate settlement spacing and reaffirm the use of radiocarbon data in archaeological science.



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