Malthusian Cycles among Complex Fisher-Hunter-Gatherers: The Socio-economic and Demographic History of Housepit 54, Bridge River site, British Columbia

Anna M. Prentiss, Matthew Walsh , Thomas A. Foor, Kathryn Bobolinski, Ashley Hampton, Ethan Ryan, Haley O'Brien

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Models in demographic ecology predict that populations in agrarian villages experience cycles of growth and decline as tied to relationships between founding population sizes, birth and mortality rates, habitat constraints, and landscape productivity. Such predictions should be equally applicable to fisher-hunter-gatherers where the populations in semi-sedentary villages also vary over time as affected by founding populations, demographic growth rates, mobility constraints, and resource productivity. The large villages of the Middle Fraser Canyon provide an ideal context for testing the predictions of demographic models given their constrained geographic context, focused subsistence strategies, and evidence for complex demographic histories. More specifically, intensive research at the Bridger River site has provided significant new insight into the dynamics of population growth and decline, subsistence productivity, cooperation, and development of social inequalities in material goods. In this paper, we present new evidence drawing from the fine-grained stratigraphic record of Housepit 54 to assess details regarding change in subsistence and technology as related to population and social dynamics. Results indicate that the village membership adopted different economic tactics in response to two periods of subsistence stress and those decisions affected the evolution of cooperation and social status relationships.
TidsskriftJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Antal sider40
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2020