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Ref ID: 24702
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Yesner, David R.
Title: Seasonality and resource "stress" among hunter-gatherers: archaeological signatures
Date: 1994
Source: Key Issues in Hunter-gatherer Research
Place of Publication: Oxford
Publisher: Berg
Abstract: Provides evidence that episodic seasonal population stress among H-G is widespread in arctic, temperate, and arid regions where resource seasonally existed. These effects were not limited to small population H-G living in resource-poor environments
they were also found among "complex" or "affluent" H-G, in coastal regions, for example. Greater sedentism, larger populations, and the resulting greater intensification of local resource exploitation among such societies elevated seasonal resource imbalances to a different level
technological and settlement pattern solutions were sought, but their effect was limited. H-G differ greatly in "logistical" strategies, largely as a function of latitudinal differences in the seasonality of resources. At higher latitudes, where the seasonality of resources increases and the diversity of resources declines, food storage developed, along with more complex settlement patterns involving base camps and more ephemeral task group sites (Binford 1968, 1978, 1980). \b[Latitudinal differences]\b Yesner (1977, 1980) point however that coastal and interior regions within single latitudinal belts often have bery different resource configuration, with resulting differences in population levels and settlement patterns. These adaptations inlcudes responses to abundance, diversity, distribution, temporal variability, and sequential pattern of availability of those resources, both individually and collectively. Nutritional content of resources may also be a factor (Keene 1985
Yesner 1987). \b[Longitudinal differences]\b With these last 2 paragraphs in mind then, logistical strategies may be viewed as attempts to even out such temporal and spatial discontinuities in energy flow. Thus when we examine nutritional "stress" that affect H-G's, we area ctually measuring the ability of societies to track these resource variations with appropriate cultural responses. pg 153 "Stress" in either individual or systems, results from a lag between the impact of stressors and the ability of the individual or system to respond. pg 155 The skeletal record, therefore, suggests that correlations between H-G resources and seasonal stress depend less on latitude than on a combination of resource diversity (in the broadest sense) and temporal variability. Goodman et al (1984:24) concluded that Harris Lines are "potentially an excellent source of data obtainable in ono other way." Alternative measures of resource stress, such as enamel hypoplasias, seem less realted to acute episodic stress than to chronic deficiency conditions, which, in turn, are more likely to be realted to the resource specialization, greater population densities, and differential access to resources seen among many farmers but among relatively few H-Gs. Thus, McHenry and Schulz (1976, 1978) found inverse correlations between Harris lines and enamel hypoplasias among California H-Gs, suggesting that they respond to different biological signals. Harris lines are good for providing evidence of nutritional insults to subadults. They have provided evidence, for example, of the "weaning effect". McHenry and Schulz (1978) have found evidence for peaks in both Harris lines and enamel hypoplasias at the age of four. There generally a low correlation between Harris lines and other diseases expressed in bone (Goodman et al 1984
Mensforth et al 1981). pg 163 As population density increased, physical mobility became limited
"populations which were once able to move away from the failure of specific resources...now found adjoining territory occupied and emergency resources already exploited" (Cohen 1981:287). pg 165 With increasing surrounding area populations, H-G could not utilize mobility as a means to restoring population and resource imbalances. As a result, the development of "new homeostatic mechanisms" includes storage systems, interregional trade, and ceremonial systems. Ceremonial systems would help to insure the flow of goods and the continued variability of trade channels during hard times thourhg addition of prestige factors and luxury items into the economy, the function of which is the create elastic, open-ended demand even in the face of increasing inequality in both prestige and possessions. Relaxtion of population growth controls would become likely since additional family members become a source not only of greater labor, but also of greater access to prestige and luxury items.
Date Created: 7/5/2001
Editors: Burch, Ernest S., Jr.
Ellanna, Linda J.
Page Start: 151
Page End: 168