Date of Award:

5-2021

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Judson Byrd Finley

Committee

Judson Byrd Finley

Committee

Molly Boeka Cannon

Committee

Jacob Freeman

Committee

Erick Robinson

Abstract

Recent work in Utah’s northern Uinta Basin documents associations between variability in precipitation and fluctuating populations during the Fremont period, AD 300-1350. In this study, I evaluate the role that precipitation variability had on observed regional population density and settlement patterns. I test a model of village formation in Cub Creek, Utah across the larger Uinta Basin and its periphery by creating two predictive statistical models using archaeological data anchored in space and time. I conclude that while precipitation variability plays a role in the initial adoption of farming practices which itself leads to higher population densities, changes in patterns of precipitation variability do not appear to be directly associated with increasing population density in all sub-regions of my study area. Rather, the results of my study support the idea that increased population densities may be more related to the specific environmental and geographical structure of smaller regions across the study area. This study is important for understanding how precipitation variability may influence the growth of Fremont villages as well as their decline. This research contributes to Fremont archaeology as well as broader research into human culture by addressing changes in diet and settlement strategies within growing agricultural communities and climate variability.

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