Skip to main content

Intrasite Spatial Analysis, Ethnoarchaeology, and Paleoindian Land-Use on the Great Plains: The Allen Site

  • Douglas B. Bamforth (a1), Mark Becker (a2) and Jean Hudson (a3)

This paper examines the way in which patterns of human occupation and geomorphic processes interacted to produce a highly structured distribution of artifacts and hearths over a period of over 3,000 years at the Allen site (25FT50), a Paleoindian campsite in southwestern Nebraska. Despite accumulation of roughly a meter of sediment, artifact concentrations remained in almost exactly the same horizontal locations throughout the period of site occupation. Hearth locations varied considerably, but were virtually always located in areas of low artifact density. Considered in light of ethnoarchaeological studies of hunter-gatherer site structure, our data indicate that the excavated portion of the site was at the periphery of a domestic area and was used for secondary discard and other purposes. Trash appears to have been collected and discarded onto previously existing and continuously visible middens throughout the occupation, and new hearths appear to have been located to avoid these middens. We discuss the implications of these patterns for current models of Paleoindian landuse on the Plains and for studies of hunter-gatherer site structure in general.


Este artículo examina la manera en que patrones de ocupación y procesos geomorfológicos interactuaron para producir una distribución de artefactos y hogares sumamente estructurados en una época de más 3000 años en el sitio Allen (25FT50), un campamento paleoindio en el suroeste del estado de Nebraska. A pesar de la acumulación de aproximadamente un metro de sedimentos, las concentraciones de artefactos se quedaron en casi idénticas ubicaciones horizontales por toda la época de ocupación del sitio. Las ubicaciones de hogares variaban considerablemente, pero estaban casi siempre ubicadas en áreas de baja densidad de artefactos. A la luz de estudios etnoarqueológicos de la estructura de sitios de cazadores-recolectores, nuestros datos indican que la porción excavada del sitio estaba en la periferia de una área doméstica, y que fue usada para desechos secundarias y otros propósitos. La basura aparentemente fue colectada y desechada en depósitos preexistentes y visibles por toda la ocupación, y nuevos hogares aparentemente se ubicaron para evitar esos depósitos. Discutimos aquí las implicaciones de esos patrones en modelos actuales sobre los usos de tierra por los paleoindios en las llanuras norteamericanas y en estudios de estructuras de cazadores-recolectores en general.

Hide All
Bamforth, Douglas B. 1991 Population Dispersion and Paleoindian Technology at the Allen Site. In Raw Material Economies among Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers, edited by Montet-White, Anta and Holen, Steven, pp. 357374. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence.
Bamforth, Douglas B. 2002a The Paleoindian Occupation of the Medicine Creek Drainage, Southwestern Nebraska. In Medicine Creek : 70 Years of Archaeological Investigations, edited by Roper, Donna, pp. 5483. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Bamforth, Douglas B. 2002b High-Tech Foragers? Folsom and Later Paleoindian Technology on the Great Plains. Journal of World Prehistory 16 : 5598.
Bamforth, Douglas B. 2003 Rethinking the Role of Bifacial Technology in Paleoindian Adaptations on the Great Plains. In Multiple Approaches to the Study of Bifacial Technologies, edited by Soressi, Marie and Dibble, Harold, pp. 209228. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.
Bamforth, Douglas B. 2005 The Allen Site : A Paleoindian Camp in Southwestern Nebraska. Submitted to University of New Mexico Press,. in press.
Bamforth, Douglas B., and Becker, Mark 2000 Core/Biface Ratios, Mobility, Refitting, and Artifact Use-Lives : A Paleoindian Example. Plains Anthropologist 45 : 273290.
Becker, Mark 1999 Reconstructing Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Mobility Patterns and the Implications for the Shift to Sedentism : A Perspective from the Near East. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Behrenshmeyer, Anna K. 1978 Taphonomic and Ecological Information from Bone Weathering. Paleobiology 4 : 150162.
Bernent, Leland 1999 Bison Hunting at the Cooper Site. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Binford, Lewis R. 1978 Dimensional Analysis of Behavior and Site Structure : Learning from an Eskimo Hunting Stand. American Antiquity 43 : 330361.
Binford, Lewis R. 1979 The Archaeology of Place. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1 : 531.
Binford, Lewis R. 1983 In Pursuit of the Past : Decoding the Archaeological Record. Thames and Hudson, London.
Brink, Jack, and Dawe, Bob 1989 Final Report of the 1985 and 1986 Field Season at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Archaeological Survey of Alberta Manuscript Series no. 19.
Cahen, Daniel and Keeley, Lawrence 1980 Not Less Than Two, Not More Than Three. World Archaeology 12 : 166180.
Cahen, Daniel, Keeley, Lawrence H., and Van Noten, Frances L. 1979 Stone Tools, Toolkits, and Human Behavior in Prehistory. Current Anthropology 20 : 661683.
Carr, Christopher 1984 The Nature of Organization of Intrasite Archaeological Records and Spatial Analytical Approaches to Their Investigation. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 7 : 103222.
Cummings, Linda, and Moutoux, Thomas 2005 Paleoenvironmental Interpretations of the Pleistocene and Early Holocene in Southwestern Nebraska : the Pollen and Phytolith Evidence. In The Allen Site : A Paleoindian Camp in Southwestern Nebraska, edited by Bamforth, Douglas B.. Submitted to the University of New Mexico Press, in press.
David, Nicholas, and Kramer, Carol 2001 Ethnoarchaeology in Action. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Davis, E. Mott 1949 Unpublished fieldnotes on work at Medicine Creek. Manuscript in senior author's possession and on file in Anthropology Department, Nebraska State Museum.
Davis, E. Mott 1954 The Culture History of the Central Great Plains Prior to the Introduction of Pottery. Ph.D. Thesis, Anthropology Department, Harvard University.
Davis, E. Mott 1962 Archeology of the Lime Creek site in Southwestern Nebraska. Special Publication No. 3. The University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln.
Enloe, James, David, Francine, and Hare, Timothy 1994 Patterns of Faunal Processing at Section 27 of Pincevent : The Use of Spatial Analysis and Ethnoarchaeological Data in the Interpretation of Archaeological Site Structure. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 13 : 105124.
Fisher, Jack W. 1978 Shadows in the Forest : Ethnoarchaeology Among the Efe Pygmies. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley.
Fisher, Jack W., and Strickland, Helen C. 1991 Dwellings and Fireplaces : Keys to Efe Pygmy Campsite Structure. In Ethnoarchaeological Approaches to Mobile Campsites, edited by Gamble, Clive S. and Boismier, William A., pp. 215236. International Monographs in Prehistory, Ann Arbor.
Frison, George, and Stanford, Dennis 1982 The Agate Basin Site. Academic Press, New York.
Gamble, Clive S., and Boismier, William A. 1991 Ethnoarchaeological Approaches to Mobile Campsites. International Monographs in Prehistory, Ann Arbor.
Goodyear, Albert 1989 A Hypothesis for the Use of Cryptocrystalline Raw Materials among Paleoindian Groups of North America. In Eastern Paleoindian Lithic Resource Use, edited by Ellis, Christopher and Lothrop, Jonathan, pp. 19. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
Hester, James 1972 Blackwater Locality No.1. Fort Burgwin Research Center, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
Hicks, Keri 2002 Local Variability in Paleoindian Lifeways : A Comparison of the Lime Creek and Allen Site Worked Stone Assemblages, Southwestern Nebraska. Master's thesis, Anthropology Department, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Hietala, Harold 1984 Intrasite Spatial Analysis in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Hitchcock, Robert 1987 Sedentism and Site Structure : Organizational Changes in Kalahari Basarwa Residential Locations. In Method and Theory for Activity Area Research, edited by Kent, Susan, pp. 374423. Columbia University Press, New York.
Hodder, Ian, and Orton, C. 1976 Spatial Analysis in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Hofman, Jack 1992 Recognition and Interpretation of Folsom Technological Variability on the Southern Plains. In Ice Age Hunters of the Rockies, edited by Stanford, Dennis and Day, Jane, pp. 193224. University Press of Colorado, Niwot.
Hofman, Jack 2003 Tethered to Stone or Freedom to Move : Folsom Biface Technology in Regional Perspective. In Multiple Approaches to the Study of Bifacial Technologies, edited by Soressi, Marie and Dibble, Harold, pp. 229250. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.
Holder, Preston, and Wike, Joyce 1949 The Frontier Culture Complex, a Preliminary Report on a Prehistoric Hunter's Camp in Southwestern Nebraska. American Antiquity 24 : 260266.
Holen, Steven 1991 Bison Hunting Territories and Lithic Acquisition among the Pawnee : An Ethnohistoric and Archaeological Study. In Raw Material Economies Among Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers, edited by Anta Montet-White and Steven Holen, pp. 399–411. University of Kansas Publications in Anthropology No. 19. Lawrence.
Holliday, Vance 2000 The Evolution of Paleoindian Geochronology and Typology on the Great Plains. Geoarchaeology 15 : 227290.
Hudson, Jean 1990 Spatial Analysis of Faunal Remains in Hunter- Gatherer Camps. In Etnoarqueologia : Primer Cologio Bosch-Gimper. Instituto de Investigaciones Antrologicas, edited by Sagiura, Y. and Serra, M., pp. 6187. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
Hudson, Jean 2005 Faunal evidence for subsistence and settlement patterns at the Allen site. In The Allen Site : A Paleoindian Camp in Southwestern Nebraska, edited by Bamforth, Douglas B.. Submitted to University of New Mexico Press, in press.
Ingbar, Eric 1992 The Hanson Site and Folsom on the Northwestern Plains. In Ice Age Hunters of the Rockies, edited by Stanford, Dennis and Day, Jane, pp. 169192. University Press of Colorado, Niwot.
Irwin-Williams, Cynthia, Irwin, Henry, Agogino, George, and Haynes, C. Vance 1973 Hell Gap : Paleo-Indian Occupation in the High Plains. Plains Anthropologist 18 : 4053.
Johnson, Eileen 1987 Lubbock Lake. Texas A& M University Press, College Station, Texas.
Jones, Kevin T. 1993 Archaeological Structure of a Short-Term Camp. In From Bones to Behavior, edited by Hudson, Jean, pp. 210237. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper No. 21. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Kehoe, Thomas 1973 The Gull Lake Site : A Prehistoric Bison Drive in Southwestern Saskatchewan. Milwaukee Public Museum Publications in Anthropology and History No. 1. Milwaukee.
Kelly, Robert, and Todd, Lawrence 1988 Coming Into the Country : Early Paleoindian Hunting and Mobility. American Antiquity 53 : 231244.
Kent, Susan 1991 The Relationship Between Mobility Strategies and Site Structure. In The Interpretation of Archaeological Spatial Patterning, edited by Ellen Kroll and T. Douglas Price, pp, 33-59. Plenum Press, New York.
Koetje, Todd 1994 Intrasite Spatial Structure in the European Upper Paleolithic : Evidence and Patterning from the Southwest of France . Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 13 : 161169.
Kroll, Ellen M., and Price, T. Douglas 1991 The Interpretation of Archaeological Spatial Patterning. Plenum Press, New York.
May, David W. 2002 Stratigraphic Studies at Paleoindian sites Around Medicine Creek Reservoir. In Medicine Creek : Seventy Years of Archaeological Investigations, edited by Roper, Donna, pp. 3753. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
May, David W. 2005 Landforms, Alluvial Stratigraphy, and Late Quaternary Environments in the Medicine Creek Basin, Southwestern Nebraska. In The Allen Site : A Paleoindian Camp in Southwestern Nebraska, edited by Bamforth, Douglas B.. Submitted to the University of New Mexico Press, in press.
O’Connell, James F. 1987 Alyawara Site Structure and Its Archaeological Implications. American Antiquity 52 : 74108.
Reeves, Brian O. K. 1978 Head-Smashed-In : 5500 Years of Bison Jumping in the Alberta Plains. In Bison Procurement and Utilization : A Symposium, edited by Davis, Leslie and Wilson, Michael, pp. 151174. Plains Anthropologist Memoir 14. Lincoln, Nebraska.
Reher, Charles, and Frison, George 1980 The Vore Site, 48CK302 : A Stratified Buffalo Jump in the Wyoming Black Hills. Plains Anthropologist Memoir No. 16. Lincoln, Nebraska.
Sellet, Fredrick 2001 A Changing Perspective on Paleoindian Chronology and Typology : A View From the Northwestern Plains. Arctic Anthropology 38 : 4863.
Spurrell, F. C. J. 1880 On Implements and Chips from the Floor of a Paleolithic Workshop. Archaeological Journal 37 : 249299.
Stevenson, Marc G. 1991 Beyond the Formation of Hearth Associated Artifact Assemblages. In The Archaeological Interpretation of Spatial Patterns, edited by Ellen Kroll and T. Douglas Price, pp. 269300. Plenum, New York.
Todd, Lawrence, Hofman, Jack, and Schultz, C. Bertrand 1990 Seasonality of the Scottsbluff and Lipscomb Bison Bonebeds : Implications for Modeling Paleoindian Subsistence. American Antiquity 55 : 813827.
Vaquero, Manuel, and Pasto, Ignasi 2002 The Definition of Spatial Units in Middle Paleolithic Sites : the Hearth-Related Assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science 28 : 12091220.
Wedel, Waldo 1986 Central Plains Prehistory. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
Wilk, Richard, and Schiffer, Michael 1979 The Archaeology of Vacant Lots in Tucson, Arizona. American Antiquity 44 : 530536.
Yellen, John 1977 Archaeological Approaches to the Present. Academic Press, New York.
Yellen, John 1996 Behavioral and Taphonomic Patterning at Katanda 9 : A Middle Stone Age Site, Kivu Province, Zaire. Journal of Archaeological Science 23 : 915932.
Zalucha, J. Anthony 2005 Early Holocene Vegetation of the Central Great Plains Based on Paleobotanical and Paleoethnobotanical Remains from the Medicine Creek Area, Frontier County, Nebraska. In The Allen Site : A Paleoindian Camp in Southwestern Nebraska, edited by Bamforth, Douglas B.. Submitted to the University of New Mexico Press, in press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed