Aboriginal Occupation at High Altitude: Alpine Villages in the White Mountains of Eastern California



    1. University of California, Davis
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 2

      ROBERT L. BETIINGER is Professor, Department o f Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616


Villages with well-built dwellings and extensive chipped- and ground-stone assemblages found between 3,130 m and 3,854 m in the White Mountains, California, and Toquima Range, Nevada, indicate intensive seasonal use of both ranges by groups engaged in alpine plant and animal procurement. Lichenometric measurements, radiocarbon assays, and time-sensitive artifacts show that the White Mountain alpine villages postdate A.D. 600, and are temporally distinct from older hunting blinds and sparse lithic scatters in that range that suggest a less-intensive form of alpine land use centered on hunting; a similar, and roughly contemporaneous, adaptive succession is indicated in the Toquima Range. These changes probably reflect adaptive responses to population growth and may be connected with the spread of Numic-speaking peoples.