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Complex Hunter-Gatherer-Fishers of Prehistoric California: Chiefs, Specialists, and Maritime Adaptations of the Channel Islands

  • Jeanne E. Arnold (a1)

Abstract

The Chumash of the Santa Barbara Channel region were among the most economically and politically complex hunter–gatherer cultures of the New World. In recent decades, rich ethnohistorical documents pertaining to Chumash culture were analyzed, thus providing an excellent foundation for understanding the simple chiefdom that was in place as explorers and missionaries arrived in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Current archaeological research on the Channel Islands focuses on the emergence of ranked society in Chumash prehistory, with special emphasis on political developments and environmental stresses that contributed to cultural evolution. A wide range of data acquired from the Channel Islands illuminates a new model of the rise of complexity. This model of chiefdom emergence is based on population-resource imbalances, political opportunism, and the manipulation of labor by rising elites. Diverse lines of evidence must be employed to evaluate the timing, causes, and consequences of increasing complexity.

Resumen

Los Chumash de la región del Canal de Santa Bárbara desarrollaron una de las culturas de cazadores-recolectores políticamente más complejas del Nuevo Mundo. En las últimas décadas se han analizado ricos documentos etnohistóricos pertenecientes a la cultura Chumash. Estos proporcionan una excelente base para entender la simple jefatura en que se encontraban organizados cuando exploradores y misioneros arribaron a la región entre los sighs XVI y XVIII. La investigación arqueológica actual en las Islas del Canal se concentra en el surgimiento de una sociedad de rangos en la prehistoria Chumash, con especial énfasis en los procesos políticos y tensiones ambientales que contribuyeron a la evolución cultural. Un amplio rango de datos provenientes de las Islas del Canal arrojan luz sobre un nuevo modelo del surgimiento de la complejidad. Este modelo del surgimiento de jefaturas se basa en desequilibrios entre población y recursos, oportunismo político y la manipulación de la fuerza de trabajo por parte de élites en ascenso. Diversos tipos de evidencia deben ser utilizados a fin de evaluar el ritmo, causas y consecuencias de la creciente complejidad

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