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In Search of the Intangible:
Geophyte Use and Management Along
the Upper Klamath River Canyon

     

                   

 

 

 

Susan Marie Gleason
Doctoral Dissertation
Anthropology Department
U. C. Riverside
December 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

     

     

     

 

 

 

A complete subsistence reconstruction that incorporates all the potentially important food resources available to a prehistoric population is necessary for the adequate addressing of many theoretical debates in archaeology.   Geophytes  (the underground storage structures of plants, e.g., carrots)  provide a resource that is particularly noted to be difficult to uncover direct evidence for in the archaeological record, and thus is often unincorporated into such reconstructions.   This dissertation thus attempts to evaluate a potential method  (the �EBA Approach�)  in terms of its ability to incorporate a consideration of the positioning of geophytes in a reconstructed prehistoric subsistence economy.   This method involves the use of Ethnographic, Biogeographic/Biologic, and Archaeological information sources to model the economics of a society.   The results are then checked and rechecked against additional information derived from the further examination of these same sources.   Experimental studies produce data which are also incorporated, as well as serving as tests of the accuracy of the model�s various predictions.   In this dissertation, the situation pertaining specifically to the region of the Upper Klamath River Canyon in northern California and southern Oregon is examined using this �EBA Approach.�   Two basic questions provide the focus for this case study:  (1) Were geophytes actually used by the prehistoric inhabitants of the canyon region during the last 2,000 years?, and,  (2) If so, how important was this resource type relative to the other available subsistence resources in the reconstructed subsistence economy?   It is believed that, since this synthetic method can be shown herein to provide answers to such questions, the �EBA Approach� may also prove useful elsewhere in determining the relative positioning of resources that might otherwise be underappreciated due to their low archaeological visibility.

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