Ancient Diet in an Arid Environment: The View from Hinds Cave (41VV456)

Samuel L. Belknap

As of 2002, Degree of Master of Science (MS) Quaternary and Climate Studies published under the auspices of the Climate Change Institute.


This study presents on the dynamics of changing diet and changing climate in the Lower Pecos region of Texas over the last 10000 years. It combines paleodietary information gleaned from paleofecal records, paleoenvironmental data from various sources with cultural information pertaining to the archaeological populations of the area to provide the most holistic view of human dietary choices in the context of environmental change. Additionally, by utilizing the latest in genetic techniques this study present new information on what ancient populations in this region were eating. The results of this study indicate that for the majority of the Holocene epoch (the last 10000 years) both climate and culture in the area of the Lower Pecos has undergone relatively little change. However, this study presents information pertaining to a subsistence revolution that occurred during the Middle Archaic period (7000-4000 years ago). The information gathered together in this study shows how a change in food processing techniques, namely earth-oven cooking, during this time potentially lead to an increase in population as well as an increase in cultural complexity as indicated by trade networks and the florescence of ritualistic rock art in the region.