The Great Basin of the western U.S. contains a rich record of late Pleistocene and Holocene lake-level fluctuations as well as an extensive record of human occupation during the same time frame. We compare spatial-temporal relationships between these records in the Lahontan basin to consider whether lake-level fluctuations across the Pleistocene-Holocene transition controlled distribution of archaeological sites. We use the reasonably well-dated archaeological record from caves and rockshelters as well as results from new pedestrian surveys to investigate this problem. Although lake levels probably reached maximum elevations of about 1230-1235 m in the different subbasins of Lahontan during the Younger Dryas (YD) period, the duration that the lakes occupied the highest levels was brief Paleoindian and early Archaic archaeological sites are concentrated on somewhat lower and slightly younger shorelines (???1220-1225 in) that also date from the Younger Dryas period. This study suggests that Paleoindians often concentrated their activities adjacent to large lakes and wetland resources soon after they first entered the Great Basin. ?? 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Additional publication details
Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene lake-level fluctuations in the Lahontan Basin, Nevada: Implications for the distribution of archaeological sites