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Agency

University of Oklahoma

Abstract

This study is concerned with examining the causes underlying cultural variation. The rationale for examining cultural variation is to elucidate the adaptive relationship of the cultural system within its natural and social environmental contexts. Changes in the environment will engender fundamental modifications of the entire cultural system, which in preindustrial semi-sedentary cultures will be manifested by alterations in architectural, community and settlement patterns, along with other tangible aspects of the cultural system. The study focuses on delineating cultural variability of the Antelope Creek phase, a late prehistoric village manifestation on the Southern High Plains of North America. Architectural remains from 28 extensively excavated sites from an 80 kilometer segment of the Canadian River are used to delineate the range of household and community patterns within the settlement system. Artifactual, mortuary, chronometric and physical environmental information are used in conjunction with the architectural data to examine functional, social, temporal and spatial factors potentially contributing to the household and community variability. IV Many community trends not reconciled by these factors are comprehensible when the natural and social context of the larger region is considered. The present environmental conditions are marginal for dependable maize production, and paleoenvironmental reconstructions indicate that xeric conditions were intensifying throughout the duration of the manifestation. The presence of springs issuing fossil water from the Ogallala aquifer during the on-set of drought conditions underlies the development of the Antelope Creek cultural system. Intensification of drought conditions adversely affected the economic base. In an attempt to alleviate the resulting population stress, a series of "buffering mechanisms" were implemented in a futile attempt to maintain the Plains Village pattern. A break down in social cohesion, shifts in settlement patterns towards lateral tributaries, expansion of trade networks with adjacent groups, and the development of raiding behavior were unsuccessfully employed to retain the Antelope Creek cultural system. Ultimately these measures proved to be inadequate, and by the sixteenth century, other major alterations in settlement and subsistence patterns were required, which radically changed the cultural system. Ultimately these measures proved to be inadequate, and by the sixteenth century, other major alterations in settlement and subsistence patterns were required, which radically changed the cultural system.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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