A Spatial Analysis of Pleistocene-Holocene Transition Sites in the Southern Columbia Plateau and Northern Great Basin of North America

Date created: 
Great Basin
Pleistocene-Holocene transition
Pluvial lakes
Spatial analysis
Western Pluvial Lakes Tradition

The Western Pluvial Lakes Tradition was proposed by Stephen Bedwell in 1973 to account for an early Holocene lake-marsh-grassland environment adaptation for hunter-gatherers living in the southern Columbia Plateau and western Great Basin of North America. Since then, archaeological site research and regional syntheses have supported this hypothesis with information on concentrations of early archaeological sites found on ancient wetland margins. However, Plateau-Basin archaeology tends to focus on site- and basin-specific analyses to support early subsistence-settlement hypotheses. To explore whether pluvial lakes were central to regional resource use and mobility patterns at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, it is necessary to broaden the scale of analysis from typical basin-focused studies. Paleoenvironmental and archaeological spatial data from the Burns and Vale Oregon Bureau of Land Management districts are used in this thesis to explore the centrality of pluvial lakes for early peoples across the dynamic landscape of the Plateau-Basin region at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. This research utilizes data collected in a cultural resource management environment to study spatial bias in data collection and analysis, as well as explore the potential benefits of using under-utilized isolate data collected in a cultural resource management research environment. The statistical analyses in this study confirm a regional association between early Holocene archaeological sites and pluvial lakes, but also indicate that the early Holocene economy was more diverse than is typically suggested in Western Pluvial Lakes Tradition research.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
George Nicholas
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.