A Landscape Perspective on Climate-Driven Risks to Food Security: Exploring the Relationship between Climate and Social Transformation in the Prehispanic U.S. Southwest

Colleen Strawhacker, Grant Snitker, Matthew A. Peeples, Ann P. Kinzig, Keith W. Kintigh, Kyle Bocinsky, Brad Butterfield, Jacob Freeman, Sarah Oas, Margaret C. Nelson, Jonathan A. Sandor, Katherine A. Spielmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Spatially and temporally unpredictable rainfall patterns presented food production challenges to small-scale agricultural communities, requiring multiple risk-mitigating strategies to increase food security. Although site-based investigations of the relationship between climate and agricultural production offer insights into how individual communities may have created long-term adaptations to manage risk, the inherent spatial variability of climate-driven risk makes a landscape-scale perspective valuable. In this article, we model risk by evaluating how the spatial structure of ancient climate conditions may have affected the reliability of three major strategies used to reduce risk: drawing upon social networks in time of need, hunting and gathering of wild resources, and storing surplus food. We then explore how climate-driven changes to this reliability may relate to archaeologically observed social transformations. We demonstrate the utility of this methodology by comparing the Salinas and Cibola regions in the prehispanic U.S. Southwest to understand the complex relationship among climate-driven threats to food security, risk-mitigation strategies, and social transformations. Our results suggest key differences in how communities buffered against risk in the Cibola and Salinas study regions, with the structure of precipitation influencing the range of strategies to which communities had access through time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-451
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Volume85
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Keywords

  • U.S. Southwest
  • agriculture
  • climate change
  • food security
  • risk and vulnerability
  • risk buffering strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology

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  • Cite this

    Strawhacker, C., Snitker, G., Peeples, M. A., Kinzig, A. P., Kintigh, K. W., Bocinsky, K., Butterfield, B., Freeman, J., Oas, S., Nelson, M. C., Sandor, J. A., & Spielmann, K. A. (2020). A Landscape Perspective on Climate-Driven Risks to Food Security: Exploring the Relationship between Climate and Social Transformation in the Prehispanic U.S. Southwest. American Antiquity, 85(3), 427-451. https://doi.org/10.1017/aaq.2020.35