Date of Award:

12-2021

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Jacob Freeman

Committee

Jacob Freeman

Committee

Molly Cannon

Committee

David Byers

Abstract

This thesis investigates the possible relationship between the archaeological presence of maize, in the United States, and historical environmental variables, rainfall and temperature, in addition to the number of underground plants that store energy and nutrients, in a given area. The thought behind this is that where the abundance of these underground plant species is highest, the lower the number of archaeological sites containing maize because such resources were a more attractive alternative food than maize. Conversely, where geophytes are less abundant, archaeological instances of maize should be more abundant because maize is a better option in such environments for individuals who need to produce more food. My results indicate that the presence of archaeological maize is potentially impacted by the productivity of geophytes in the area along with climate variables that impact the productivity of maize. The concentration of precipitation during the growing season, in particular, has a consistently significant effect on the number of archaeological sites with maize. By better understanding the environmental conditions that make maize productivity more favorable, we can better understand the transition to agriculture.

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