Before winter comes : Archaeological investigations of settlement and subsistence in Harney Valley, Harney County, Oregon
O'Grady, Patrick Warren, 1959-
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O'Grady, Patrick Warren, 1959-
Many archaeological researchers that have conducted investigations in the Harney Valley of southeastern Oregon use the ethnographic description of the seasonal round of the Harney Valley Paiute reported by Beatrice Blyth Whiting in her 1950 work Paiute Sorcery as a framework for discussions of prehistoric human use of the area. Archaeological investigations of seven sites, situated in areas identified as having been utilized by the Harvey Valley Paiutes, were conducted to test the relationship between Whiting's ethnographic account and the archaeological record. Data recovery excavations occurred at the Hoyt (35HA2422), Morgan (35HA2423) and Hines (35HA2692) sites near Burns, and test excavations occurred at the Knoll (35HA2530) site in the Silvies Valley, the RJ site (35HA3013) in the Stinkingwater Mountains, and the Broken Arrow (35HA2735) and Laurie's (35HA2734) sites near Malheur Lake. Studies of the cultural materials recovered during the excavations were undertaken to evaluate the content and complexity of each site. Analyses included typological considerations of the chipped stone tools, ground stone, bone tools, and shell, bone, and stone beads. Radiocarbon dating, obsidian sourcing and hydration, and zooarchaeological and paleobotanical analyses were also conducted when possible. Based on the results of the analyses, the seven sites reported herein were primarily used during the past 2000 years, with periods of less intensive use extending beyond 4000 BP. The results of the archaeological investigations indicate that there is a strong correlation between the late Holocene prehistoric record and Whiting's ethnographic description. However, the relationship between human use of the centrally-located lakes and wetlands and the neighboring uplands is clearly more complex than the ethnographic record suggests. Patterns of settlement and mobility revealed through the archaeological record indicate that central places, located closer to wetlands and lacustrine settings but within relatively easy reach of the uplands, may have figured more prominently in the behavior of prehistoric populations than the seasonal round as described by Whiting. Future research will benefit from explorations of central place foraging, emphasizing the role of behavioral ecology in the placement of sites and patterns of site use within the Harney Valley and the northern Great Basin at large.
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