Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Risk mangement strategies and dietary change at the early agricultural village of Las Capas
by Sinensky, Robert J., M.A., Northern Arizona University, 2013, 367; 1550129
Abstract (Summary)

My thesis explores the impact that changing environmental conditions on early farmers in the Tucson Basin during the San Pedro phase (1200-800 B.C.) of the Early Agricultural period (2100 B.C.- 50 A.D.) in southern Arizona. Previous research at Las Capas identified intense occupations in two stable strata dating between approximately 1250-1000 B.C. and 950-800 B.C. Archaeologist identified a period of instability due to large scale flooding at the site between the two occupations dating to approximately 950 B.C., and lasting less than 100 years. Originally, researchers uncovered few cultural features in the flood deposits and hypothesized that the site was abandoned during this interval. Recent excavations at Las Capas uncovered evidence of a continued occupation during the period of instability. Cultural features investigated include irrigation canals, pit structures, and a variety of extramural features and activity areas. I use data from previously analyzed paleobotanical materials from multiple excavations at Las Capas. I compare this information to data I have collected from 50 paleobotanical samples from cultural features during the period of large-scale flooding. I use the data to assess the risk management and resource procurement strategies of early farmers during conditions that were both favorable and detrimental to irrigation agriculture. Evaluating how early farmers elected to mitigate the impacts of environmental uncertainty provides a rare look into the decision making process of human groups at the dawn of agriculture in the American Southwest. Recent research indicates that the adoption of agriculture in southern Arizona and northern Mexico was a slow process, with human groups becoming more or less reliant on cultigens at a given point in time. The resilience model allows for the flexibility necessary to analyze human-environment interactions over an extended period of time. Las Capas farmers were resourceful and actively changed their local environment to suit their growing needs. They made use of irrigation waters when available, and remained flexible enough to maintain a substantial presence at one of the most productive locations in the Tucson Basin over a period of 400 years. This is a testament to the resiliency of early farmers in the Tucson Basin.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smiley IV., Francis E.
Commitee: Downum, Christian E., Gumerman IV., George, Vannette, Walter M.
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 52/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Cultural Resources Management, Sustainability
Keywords: Anthropogenic ecology, Archaic, Arizona, Early agricultural, Las Capas, Paleoethnobotany, Southwestern archaeology
Publication Number: 1550129
ISBN: 978-1-303-64125-1
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