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Cooking with rock: an investigation of prehistoric hearth morphology in northern Colorado




Troyer, Michael D., author
LaBelle, Jason M., advisor
Van Buren, Mary, committee member
Denning, Scott M., committee member
Flather, Curtis H., committee member

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Hearths are a focal point for the organization of prehistoric hunter-gatherer activities, and can reveal a wealth of information regarding subsistence, settlement, chronology, and technology. However, despite the direct association with human behavior and the breadth of information these features offer the archaeologist, hearth morphology and the distribution of different feature types through time and space has largely been ignored. With this in mind, this research will address three main questions: are there temporal and spatial patterns to hearth morphology; are there spatial and temporal patterns in the material recovered from hearth features; and do changes in hearth morphology through time coincide with documented changes in paleoclimate, and other systemic changes in prehistoric culture? This study is focused on Boulder, Grand, Jackson, Larimer, and Weld counties of northern Colorado, and utilizes 190 radiocarbon dated hearth features, representing 72 individual archaeological sites. The features used in this study range in age from Paleoindian to Protohistoric, and are distributed across plains, foothills, montane, and subalpine/alpine environments. Collectively, this research seeks to better understand specific adaptive changes in past human culture, their causes and correlations, and how these changes in prehistoric culture are manifest in the distribution and morphology of hearth features in northern Colorado.


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