M.A. Theses: Rudolph Reimer, 2000

Extreme Archaeology: The Results of the Investigations at High Elevation Regions in the Northwest

Review of ethnographic and recent archaeological studies suggest that past human use of high elevation subalpine and alpine environments in northwestern North America was more intense than is currently believed. Archaeological survey high in coastal and interior mountain ranges resulted in locating 21 archaeological sites ranging in age between 7,500-1,500 BP. Lithic analysis of material from these sites indicates that technological strategies used at high elevations were affected by raw material availability, type and group mobility. The technological orientations of high elevation sites in coastal areas differed from those in the interior.

Site distributional patterns at subalpine elevations indicate a focus on ridgelines and cirque basins. These areas were ideal for use as resource procurement base camps between summer and fall. Data from other archaeological studies throughout the Northwest indicate similar technological orientations and settlement strategies for high elevation areas. Fluctuations in the use of high elevation resources are believed to have contributed to the development of Northwest cultures by 1) affecting regional settlement patterns, 2) controlling the availability of lithic, faunal and floral resources and 3) contributing to strong ideological ties to mountainous areas.