Before Farming

Dietary plant use by middle Holocene foragers in the Bonneville Basin, western North America

Before Farming (2008), 2008, (3), 1–17.

Abstract

Middle Holocene foragers in the Bonneville basin, western North America, developed a subsistence strategy that differed in emphasis and orientation compared with their early Holocene predecessors. This paper examines one aspect of this changing middle Holocene subsistence orientation, the increasing dietary use of plants such as small hard-coated seeds (including iodinebush, pepperweed, goosefoot, and others), bulrush rhizomes, cactus pads and fruits, and to a lesser degree a few upland plant foods (pine nuts and various fruits). Middle Holocene archaeobotanical assemblages are reviewed for four sites: Danger Cave, Bonneville Estates Rockshelter, Camels Back Cave, and Hogup Cave. The middle Holocene shift toward extensive use of small seeds and plant foods from varied upland and desert environments reflects intensified use and processing of low-ranked plant resources, focusing on resource reliability, in the context of widespread regional aridification.

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Rhode, David