Cambridge University Press
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Spatially and temporally unpredictable rainfall patterns presented food production challenges to small-scale agricultural communities, requiring multiple risk-mitigating strategies to increase food security. Although site-based investigations of the relationship between climate and agricultural production offer insights into how individual communities may have created long-term adaptations to manage risk, the inherent spatial variability of climate-driven risk makes a landscape-scale perspective valuable. In this article, we model risk by evaluating how the spatial structure of ancient climate conditions may have affected the reliability of three major strategies used to reduce risk: drawing upon social networks in time of need, hunting and gathering of wild resources, and storing surplus food. We then explore how climate-driven changes to this reliability may relate to archaeologically observed social transformations. We demonstrate the utility of this methodology by comparing the Salinas and Cibola regions in the prehispanic U.S. Southwest to understand the complex relationship among climate-driven threats to food security, risk-mitigation strategies, and social transformations. Our results suggest key differences in how communities buffered against risk in the Cibola and Salinas study regions, with the structure of precipitation influencing the range of strategies to which communities had access through time.
Strawhacker, C., Snitker, G., Peeples, M., Kinzig, A., Kintigh, K., Bocinsky, K., . . . Spielmann, K. (2020). A Landscape Perspective on Climate-Driven Risks to Food Security: Exploring the Relationship between Climate and Social Transformation in the Prehispanic U.S. Southwest. American Antiquity, 85(3), 427-451. https://doi.org/10.1017/aaq.2020.35