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THE IDEAL DISTRIBUTION OF FARMERS: EXPLAINING THE EURO-AMERICAN SETTLEMENT OF UTAH

  • Peter M. Yaworsky (a1) and Brian F. Codding (a1)

Abstract

Explaining how and why populations settle a new landscape is central to many questions in American archaeology. Recent advances in settlement research have adopted predictions from the Ideal Free Distribution model (IFD). While tests of IFD predictions to date rely either on archaeologically derived coarse-grained diachronic data or ethnographically derived fine-grained synchronic data, here we provide the first test using historically derived data that is both fine-grained and diachronic. Fine-grain diachronic data allow us to test model predictions at a temporal scale in line with human settlement decisions and to validate proxies for application in archaeological contexts. To test model predictions pertaining to the relationship between population density and habitat quality, we use data from the historical settlement of Utah. The results demonstrate a negative relationship between population density and the quality of habitats occupied. These results are consistent with IFD predictions, suggesting that Euro-American settlement of Utah resulted from individuals attempting to maximize individual returns via agricultural productivity. Our results provide a quantitative and testable explanation for population dispersion over time and explain the spatial distribution of population density today. The results support predictions derived from a general theory of behavior, providing an explanatory framework for colonization events worldwide.

Explicar cómo y por qué las poblaciones se instalan en un nuevo lugar es fundamental para muchas preguntas en la arqueología americana. Los avances recientes en la investigación de asentamientos han adoptado las predicciones del modelo de Distribución Libre Ideal (DLI). Mientras que las pruebas de las predicciones de DLI hasta la fecha se basan, ya sea en información diacrónica impresisa, que nos llega a través de los arqueólogos, o de información sincrónica precisa de etnografía. Aquí proporcionamos la primera prueba utilizando datos históricos derivados que es a la vez precisa y diacrónica. Los datos diacrónicos precisos nos permiten, evaluar las predicciones a largo plazo del modelo, en una escala temporal en línea con las decisiones de los asentamientos humanos, y también validar los proxies que se pueden aplicar en contextos arqueológicos. Para poner a prueba las predicciones del modelo, perteneciente a la relación entre la densidad de la población y la calidad del habitat, usamos los datos de los asentamientos históricos en Utah. Los resultados demuestran una relación negativa entre la densidad de la población y la calidad de las habitats ocupados. Los resultados son consistentes con las predicciones de DLI, lo que sugiere que los primeros modelos de asentamiento euro-americanos en Utah fueron el resultado de personas que trataron de maximizar la eficiencia de la agricultura. Los metodos utilizados aquí proporcionan una explicación cuantitativa y comprobable para la dispersión de la gente a través del tiempo y explica las diferencias en la distribución especial de la densidad poblacional hoy en dia. Estos resultados apoyan las predicciones derivadas de una teoría general de comportamiento, proporcionando una explicación para eventos de colonización en todo el mundo.

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(p.yaworsky@utah.edu, corresponding author)

References

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