Was there a Neolithic ‘(R)evolution’ in North America’s Pacific North-West Region? Exploring Alternative Models of Socio-Economic and Political Change

Matthew Walsh , Anna M. Prentiss

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The Pacific Northwest region of North American has long been recognized by ethnographers for its dense aggregate villages, monumental architecture, elaborate artistic traditions, complex social organization, and intensified food harvest and storage. Not surprisingly, archaeologists have been equally interested in the culture historical and evolutionary processes that gave rise to these societies. Ethnological and archaeological materials from the region are of global importance for their analogical value in interpreting more ancient records such as the Scandinavian Mesolithic, Levantine Natufian and Japanese Early-Late Jomon cultures. Gaining an understanding of the variability and evolutionary history of the region’s cultures is equally valuable from the standpoint of understanding indigenous history and for theoretical development within anthropological archaeology. One major emerging discussion concerns evidence for food production within the Pacific Northwest region and its implications for viewing some pre-modern cultures of the region as relevant to understanding variability in Neolithic cultures in general. In this paper we explore alternative models of Neolithic evolution by drawing from the archaeological record of the Pacific Northwest. This permits us to ask first if this record does contain Neolithic attributes and second, how such cultures evolved. We accomplish this with a review of a select set of key archaeological sites from the Fraser River
and Salish Sea regions of British Columbia, Canada. We test alternative evolutionary hypotheses with a phylogenetic analysis. Finally we close with a discussion of implications for better understanding cultural evolutionary history within the region. We also offer recommendations for archaeological landscape management and future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Heritage Papers, HEADS : The Origins of Food Production : Los orígenes de la producción de alimentos
EditorsNuria Sanz
Number of pages297
Place of PublicationMexico City, Mexico
Publication date2018
Article number2
ISBN (Print)978-92-3000043-1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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