Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 161-236

First online:

The Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene archaeology of the Great Basin

  • Charlotte BeckAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Hamilton College
  • , George T. JonesAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Hamilton College

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The archaeological record of the Terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene in the Great Basin consists largely of surface lithic artifacts, and consequently research has concentrated on typological and technological studies. The small suite of radiocarbon dates available suggests human presence in the Great Basin by at least 11,500 B.P., but evidence of subsistence is scanty. Technological analyses as well as artifact distributions suggest that the earliest occupants of this region subsisted primarily by hunting, possibly large terrestrial game. As elsewhere in North America, the earliest occupants of the Great Basin faced a rapidly changing environment, with the drying of shallow pluvial lake remnants and the creation of new habitats. Paralleling these changes, significant subsistence resource diversification coupled with expansion into new environments is evident by the close of the Pleistocene.

Key words

Great Basin Terminal Pleistocene Early Holocene projectile points paleoenvironments