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Space and Social Structure in the A.D. 13th Century Occupation of Promontory Cave 1, Utah Open Access


Other title
group size
Promontory Cave 1
group composition
Promontory Culture
space syntax
Western North America
space needs per person
Great Basin
hunter-gatherer dwellings
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lakevold, Courtney D.
Supervisor and department
Ives, John W. (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Supernant, Kisha (Anthropology)
Gruhn, Ruth (Anthropology)
Losey, Robert (Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Arts
Degree level
Promontory Cave 1, located on the north shore of Great Salt Lake in northern Utah, has yielded many extraordinary archaeological artifacts that are amazingly well-preserved. Promontory phase deposits in Cave 1 are extremely thick, and rich with perishables and other material culture. Bison bones, fur, leather and hide processing artifacts have been recovered at the site, in addition to gaming pieces, basketry, pottery, juniper bark for bedding, knife handles, ceramics and moccasins. A large central hearth area, pictograph panels, pathways and entrance and exit routes have also been identified. Bayesian modeling from AMS dates indicates a high probability that the cave was occupied for one or two human generations over a 20-50 year interval (A.D. 1240-1290). Excavations have taken place at the cave from 2011-2014 by an interdisciplinary research team with members from the University of Alberta (Institute of Prairie Archaeology), the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU), Oxford, the Desert Research Institute and Brigham Young University. The extraordinary preservation and narrow time frame (A.D. 1240-1290) for the occupation of Promontory Cave 1 on Great Salt Lake allow for unusual insights into the demography of its Promontory Culture inhabitants. This thesis looks at the cave as a humanly inhabited space and examines what the Promontory Culture group may have looked like in terms of population size and group composition, and how they used or organized space in the cave. This is accomplished by combining accurate data on the livable space in Cave 1 with calculated space needs per person from ethnographic accounts of Western North American hunter-gatherer groups in order to estimate likely group size. These data, combined with work done with by Billinger and Ives (2015) on moccasin data from the cave (indicating age and stature of the inhabitants), allow insights into group composition. Space in the cave is analyzed using space syntax analysis and soundscapes, and common patterns of spatial organization of built dwellings of Western North American hunter-gatherer groups are compared to areas of cultural deposition and excavation data from the cave. Models of how the space may have been used are presented. In addition, defensibility of several sites located on Promontory Point are calculated and compared to defensible sites on the Northwest Coast and in the Fraser Canyon area of British Columbia. I argue that the three Promontory Culture sites located on Promontory Point are highly defensible.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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