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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/34034

Title: Heterarchy and Hierarchy in the Formation and Dissolution of Complex Hunter-gatherer Communities on the Northern Plateau
Authors: Harris, Lucille
Advisor: Coupland, Gary
Department: Anthropology
Keywords: Complex Hunter-Gatherers
Mid-Fraser Archaeology
Social Organization
Issue Date: 12-Dec-2012
Abstract: This research explores the changing nature of social organization associated with the growth and breakup of large nucleated hunter-gatherer winter settlements in the Mid-Fraser region of south-central British Columbia, ca. 2000-300 cal. B.P. It uses hierarchy and heterarchy as overarching conceptual frameworks for theorizing and evaluating structures of social and political organization. Regional radiocarbon data were used to examine issues of demography and to evaluate the role of scalar stress in producing social change in these burgeoning communities. In order to explore aspects of economic practice and wealth distribution over time artifacts, fauna, and features from sixteen different housepits from five different village sites near the present-day town of Lillooet, British Columbia were analyzed. Results suggest that the villages formed around 1800 cal. B.P. and attained peak population ca. 1200 cal. B.P. The onset of the Medieval Climatic Anomaly at that time altered resource conditions, resulting in greater reliance on mammalian rather than riverine resources. Increased pressure on these resources led to the incorporation of greater amounts of small bodied mammals after 1000 cal. B.P. Apparent declining numbers of houses within large villages after 1200 cal. B.P. suggest that village abandonment began at this time, with individual families likely settling in dispersed villages. The large villages were totally abandoned by 900-800 cal. B.P. Lack of evidence for wealth differentiation in these contexts suggest that social hierarchy based on control over access to resources never emerged in the large villages and that more egalitarian conditions prevailed. Heterarchical structures that allow for shifting balance of power between bands and individual families is argued to have characterized the shift between population aggregation and dispersal.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/34034
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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