Great Basin Foraging Strategies

Christopher Morgan and Robert L. Bettinger

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Great Basin Foraging Strategies

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Conceptualizing foraging strategies dominates the study of pre-Columbian human behavior in the Great Basin. The reason for this is that, since at least the early twentieth century, Great Basin anthropological thinking has been predominantly “gastric”—guided by the idea that subsistence concerns have driven most regional cultural developments and thus explain things like technology, social structure, settlement, and even ideology. So asking (and answering) questions about how and why foraging strategies evolved in the Great Basin is really a matter of explaining how and why foragers behave the way they do, particularly in the high-desert steppes of intermountain western North America. These questions hinge on a dialectic of competing hypotheses and resulting syntheses that describe foraging strategies, model foraging behaviors, and explain foraging variability across space and through time in the Great Basin.

Keywords: foraging strategies; human behavior; Great Basin; subsistence; western North America; foraging behaviors

Article.  5159 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; North American Archaeology

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