A Precise Chronology of Middle to Late Holocene Bison Exploitation in the Far Southern Great Plains

Volume 1 (2014) – Article 5

A Precise Chronology of Middle to Late Holocene Bison Exploitation in the Far Southern Great Plains

By: Jon C. Lohse, Brendan J. Culleton, Stephen L. Black, and Douglas J. Kennett

In regions on the margins of the Great Plains grasslands, documenting the intermittent history of bison exploitation has presented challenges to archeologists. Chronologies based on archeological associations have long been useful in regional research, but can be imprecise and of inadequate resolution for constructing precise sequences of prehistoric events. Here, we present a record of directly dated bison from archeological contexts spanning the last 6000 years on the very southern extent of the Great Plains. This study includes 61 specimens from archeological contexts that were dated by XAD purified AMS radiocarbon, with reported errors of only 15-20 14 C years for most dates. The resulting record of bison exploitation for this area defines four main periods (Calf Creek, Late Archaic 1 and 2, and early Toyah) during which bison were exploited. Several dates also indicate an early historic presence of bison; this period may represent a late facet of the Toyah horizon. This study adds significant chronological resolution to the regional record of bison in parts of Texas and begins to help correlate cultural chronologies with important climatic data. It also points to the research value of obtaining additional directly dated bison samples from temporally and geographically diverse archeological contexts in our study area and beyond.

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