Climatic and Cultural Change in the Northern Great Basin: A Geospatial Analysis of Northern Side-notched Projectile Points from the Burns Bureau of Land Management District
Pratt, Jordan E.
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Pratt, Jordan E.
Climate change dramatically transforms the ecological zones that humans call home. Historically the northern Great Basin region of eastern Oregon provides an ideal case in which to study human adaptation to climate change because in this region, the Pleistocene-Holocene transition that brought the first people into the region, was followed by multiple smaller shifts in climate that influenced people’s ecological adaptations to the region. The early Middle Holocene of around 8,000 – 4,000 calendar years ago (cal. B.P.) provided one of these warming periods, in which the regional environment became much drier and more arid. One of the few types of material culture that have reliably been dated to the early Middle Holocene in the northern Great Basin are Northern Side-notched points, a type of atlatl dart point dated to circa 7,000-4,000 cal. BP. In this paper, Northern Side-notched points collected by the Bureau of Land Management Burns BLM District and UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History’s Archaeological Field School are analyzed to establish a rigorously objective classification for such projectile points found in eastern Oregon. BLM site reports are analyzed to determine significant site characteristics that are then compared to Northern Side-notched site characteristics as previously determined by John Fagan in 1974. Finally, ArcGIS is used to geospatially analyze the distribution of the projectile points throughout the Burn’s BLM District compared to known obsidian sources. By analyzing the distribution of projectile points and movement of materials across the landscape, as well as site attributes, insights can be made into prehistoric mobility and settlement patterns.