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Perspectives on Prehistoric Trade and Exchange in California and the Great Basin

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Copyright: 2011
Trim: 7 x 10
Pages: 336 pp.
Illustrations: 46 illus., 29 maps, 31 tables



Perspectives on Prehistoric Trade and Exchange in California and the Great Basin

Edited by Richard E. Hughes

Archaeology / Anthropology

How does prehistoric material get from its place of origin to its location of archaeological recovery? While this question may seem basic, a moment’s reflection suggests that the answers carry important implications for archaeological interpretation about social organization, settlement, and subsistence practices. Archaeologists know much about the temporal and spatial distribution of materials in prehistoric western North America, but comparatively little has emerged regarding the causes of such distributions. Trade and exchange, mobility, and direct access all have been credited with observed distributions, but the reasons for settling on specific behavioral linkages is rarely made clear.

This volume investigates the circumstances and conditions under which trade/exchange, direct access, and/or mobility best account for material conveyance across varying distances at different times in the past. Each chapter contextualizes distributional and chemical data, evaluates competing distribution hypotheses, and addresses the reasoning and inferences employed to arrive at conclusions about the human behaviors responsible for the distributions of materials. Contributors showcase a range of diverse and creative ways of thinking about these issues in the California and Great Basin archaeological record, and why it matters.

Richard E. Hughes is the director of the Geochemical Research Laboratory in California, and a research associate for the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History and for the Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California, Berkeley.


Charlotte Beck, Hamilton College
Jelmer W. Eerkens, University of California, Davis
Catherine S. Fowler, University of Nevada, Reno
Amy J. Gilreath, Far Western Anthropological Research Group
Eugene M. Hattori, Nevada State Museum
William R. Hildebrandt, Far Western Anthropological Research Group
Richard E. Hughes, Geochemical Research Laboratory
Joel C. Janetski, Brigham Young University
Cady B. Jardine, Brigham Young University
George T. Jones, Hamilton College
Robert L. Kelly, University of Wyoming
Jerome King, Far Western Anthropological Research Group
Joanne M. Mack, University of Notre Dame
Michael J. Moratto, Applied EarthWorks, Inc.
David Rhode, Desert Research Institute
Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, Far Western Anthropological Research Group
David Hurst Thomas, American Museum of Natural History
Christopher N. Watkins, Arizona State University

Table of Contents:

List of Figures
List of Tables
Introduction ~ Richard E. Hughes

1.Sources of Inspiration for Studies of Prehistoric Resource Acquisition and Materials Conveyance in California and the Great Basin ~ Richard E. Hughes

2. Interaction and Exchange in Fremont Society ~ Joel C. Janetski, Cady B. Jardine, and Christopher N. Watkins

3. The Role of Mobility and Exchange in the Conveyance of Toolstone During the Great Basin Paleoarchaic ~ Charlotte Beck and George T. Jones

4. The Function of Shell Bead Exchange in Central California ~ Jeffrey S. Rosenthal

5. On the Role of Siskiyou Utility Ware as a Social Network Marker in Late Prehistoric Northern California and Southern Oregon ~ Joanne M. Mack

6. Pot Conveyance, Design Characteristics, and Precontact Adaptations to Arid Environments ~ Jelmer W. Eerkens

7. Evaluating Alternative Models for the Conveyance of Bodie Hills Obsidian into Central California ~ Jerome King, William R. Hildebrandt, and Jeffrey S. Rosenthal

8. Current Perspectives on the Production and Conveyance of Coso Obsidian ~ Amy J. Gilreath and William R. Hildebrandt

9. Obsidian in the Carson Desert: Mobility or Trade? ~ Robert L. Kelly

10. Exploring Prehistoric Trade in Western Great Basin Textiles ~ Catherine S. Fowler and Eugene M. Hattori

11. Constraints on Long-Distance Movement of Plant Foods in the Great Basin ~ David Rhode

12. Material Conveyance in Prehistoric California: Cultural Contexts and Mechanisms ~ Michael J. Moratto

13. Multiscalar Perspectives on Trade and Exchange in the Great Basin: A Critical Discussion ~ David Hurst Thomas

List of Contributors

Praise and Reviews:

“The idea for and concept behind the volume is innovative and timely.”
—Steven Simms, author of Traces of Fremont: Society and Rock Art in Ancient Utah (The University of Utah Press, 2010)

"An important volume that contributes significantly to our knowledge and understanding of Great Basin prehistory."
—Journal of Anthropological Research

“Each chapter examines the problems and pitfalls of current methods of interpreting these data sources and proposes new and innovative ways of conducting analyses and questioning the archaeological record… This volume will help all of us think more critically about trade and exchange.”
—California Archaeology

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