Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan
University of Nevada, Reno | UNR · Department of Anthropology

Ph.D.

About

56
Publications
24,717
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961
Citations
Citations since 2017
18 Research Items
593 Citations
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Introduction
My research centers on hunter-gatherer behavioral adaptations to high-altitude, desert and other marginal environments. I am particularly interested in the ways mobility, storage and settlement patterns relate to environmental change and the evolution of different aspects of hunter-gatherer sociocultural complexity. I am currently working on a project focused on prehistoric high-altitude residential use of Wyoming’s Wind River Range and on tracking Upper Paleolithic-Neolithic transitions China.
Additional affiliations
July 2016 - present
University of Nevada, Reno
Position
  • Professor
July 2012 - June 2016
University of Nevada, Reno
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
August 2008 - July 2012
Utah State University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Education
August 1999 - June 2006
University of California, Davis
Field of study
  • Anthropology

Publications

Publications (56)
Chapter
Full-text available
To understand the factors that conditioned the development of the late prehistoric alpine village pattern in the White Mountains of eastern California, we use GIS to analyze a suite of environmental characteristics that may have limited the development of village patterns in nine alpine settings across the Great Basin. Characteristics include tempe...
Article
Full-text available
The beginning of the Anthropocene, a proposed geological epoch denoting human-caused changes to Earth’s systems, and what metrics signify its onset is currently under debate. Proposed initiation points range from the beginning of the Atomic Age to the Industrial Revolution to the adoption of agriculture in the early Holocene. Most of the debate cen...
Article
Full-text available
The climatic, hydrographic, and environmental regimes of terminal Pleistocene and Holocene northwestern Mongolia are reconstructed using archaeological and pedological data sets at Bayan Nuur, a lake on the northwestern perimeter of the Altan Els dune field in eastern Uvs Province, Mongolia. The archaeological data consist of land-use patterns cont...
Article
Full-text available
This issue of Hunter-Gatherer Research is devoted to exploring current trends in California and Great Basin archaeology in the western United States (Figure 1), a land characterised by diverse Indigenous hunter-gatherer lifeways and a very long history of contributing to how we think about people who do not rely on domesticates for subsistence (Mor...
Article
Full-text available
This research evaluates the association of ethnographically derived demographic and sociocultural variables with a large sample of communal, landscapescale hunting features (drivelines, corrals and traps) from across the Great Basin; it does so in an attempt to identify the sociocultural contexts that may have encouraged or discouraged people to co...
Article
In this paper we explore obsidian conveyance in the Diamante Valley, in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. Obsidian is the third most-common toolstone used in the Diamante Valley after basalts and local cryptocrystallines. Obsidian artifacts are predominantly projectile points and bifaces, with few cores and early-stage reduction debris. To explain...
Article
Full-text available
Thirty-eight years have passed since excavations concluded at Alta Toquima Village (ATV), the high-altitude lynchpin of David Hurst Thomas’ career-spanning investigations in the central Great Basin. Though the wait was frustrating for those interested in alpine archaeology, and in Thomas’ perspectives more generally, it was well worth it. This is b...
Article
The Paleolithic record of the southwestern Ordos Loop region of northwestern China suggests settlement variability, increased occupational intensity, and the intrusion or development of blade-based technology ca. 41,000–37,000 cal BP. These phenomena are also associated with equivocal evidence for ornamentation. More substantial changes in hominin...
Article
Full-text available
Test excavations were conducted at Risco de los Indios (RDLI), a site at 2480 masl with 29 residential features and a well-developed midden containing abundant floral, faunal, lithic, and ceramic materials. Analyses indicate the site was intensively used ca. 500 cal b.p. as a residential base for groups focused on hunting guanaco, supplemented by l...
Article
Full-text available
At the global scale, conceptions of hunter-gatherer economies have changed considerably over time and these changes were strongly affected by larger trends in Western history, philosophy, science, and culture. Seen as either “savage” or “noble” at the dawn of the Enlightenment, hunter-gatherers have been regarded as everything from holdovers from a...
Article
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In this volume, editors Roth and McBrinn bring together ten chapters that grew out of a 2010 Society for American Archaeology annual meeting symposium that sought to bridge the gap between the hunter-gatherer research of the Great Basin and that on early farmers in the American Southwest.
Article
Full-text available
Sampling 16 of 52 house features at High Rise Village (48FR5891), a large residential locus at 3273 m (10,720 ft) elevation in Wyoming’s Wind River Range produced 25 AMS dates, 23 diagnostic projectile points, 148 obsidian artifacts (mostly retouch debris) as well as abundant chert debitage, small quantities of faunal bone, and groundstone milling...
Article
Full-text available
Se presentan los resultados de los trabajos de campo en el sitio arqueológico Risco de los Indios, localizado en la cuenca alta del río Diamante a unos 2.400 m s.n.m. El sitio reúne un total de veintinueve estructuras habitacionales pircadas y fue fechado en ca. 500 años AP. Las características generales de Risco de los Indios sugieren que es un si...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents the results of feldwork at Risco de los Indios, an archaeological site situated at 2.400 m elevation in the upper Diamante River watershed. The site contains twenty nine stacked-rock residential structures and dates to ca. 500 cal BP. Recovered faunal and macrobotanical remains indicate the site focused mainly on hunting camelid...
Article
Full-text available
Select at random an issue of American Antiquity from the past 15 years. Chances are good that you will find at least one article or report in the table of contents that focuses on the archaeology of California. Recent research in the Golden State and adjacent regions has been highly influential in two main areas: the archaeology of prehistoric hunt...
Poster
Full-text available
Understanding hunter-gatherer adaptations to northern latitude marginal environments such as the Uvs Lake Basin of northern Mongolia is crucial for understanding social historical processes such as the transition to herding and pastoralism. Unfortunately, the archeological patterns of hunter-gatherer life in this part of the world are notoriously i...
Poster
Full-text available
Middle to Late Holocene paleoenvironmental reconstruction in Uvs Province, Mongolia.
Article
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Originally designed to explain causes of increased productivity in agricultural systems, the concept of intensification has become widely linked to hunter-gatherer archaeology. Worldwide, recent applications show that progress has been made with regard to recognizing, describing, and modeling the declining foraging efficiency predicted by tradition...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter presents a very simple argument: that technology in general, and lithic technology in particular, can shed critical light on conditions surrounding and contributing to major behavioral innovations, in this case the origin of agriculture. There are probably as many views on the subject as papers, but there is a fairly clear divide betwe...
Article
Full-text available
At 3,609 m. (11,840 ft.) elevation in the White Mountains of Eastern California is a site containing 216 rock features consisting of cairns, pits, and other stacked-rock constructions but very few artifacts. Two obsidian bifaces, two milling tools, and lichenometric dating point towards site occupation between 440 and 190 cal B.P., contemporaneous...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents evidence for treeline advance in the central Rocky Mountains, United States, between 1800 and 800 cal. yr BP. This evidence was generated by systematic survey, sampling, and accelerator-mass spectrometer (AMS) dating of remnant Pinus albicaulis above the modern treeline ecotone of Union Peak, in the Wind River Range of western W...
Article
Full-text available
A review of recently published temporal data from Shuidonggou Locality 1 indicates that a 40–43 cal ka date for the inception of Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP), blade-oriented technologies in East Asia is warranted. Comparison of the dates from Shuidonggou to other Asian IUP dates in Korea, Siberia, and Mongolia supports this assertion, indicating...
Article
Full-text available
Analyses of the capacity and rates of different acorn storage techniques employed by the Western Mono of California's Sierra Nevada during the very late Holocene indicate hunter-gatherers store food in at least three main modes: centralplace storage, dispersed caching, and dispersed bulk caching. The advantage of caching modes over central-place on...
Article
Full-text available
High Rise Village is a hunter-gatherer residential site containing at least 52 house features at a mean elevation of 3200 m in Wyoming's Wind River Range. Fifteen radiocarbon dates place site occupation(s) between 4500 and 150 cal BP. Though the 4500 cal BP dates likely result from an old wood problem, dates between 2800 and 150 BP appear more soun...
Article
The level of Cliff Lake, a small, subalpine, moraine-dammed lake in California's south central Sierra Nevada, was approximately 5 m lower than present for 50 years or more approximately 600 years ago, this determined by radiocarbon dating of wood recovered from a submerged tree stump found in the lake. This finding corresponds to commensurate data...
Article
Full-text available
Recent excavations at Pharo Heights, a residential site in the subalpine region of the Pahvant Range in central Utah, and the dating of a storage feature associated with Pharo Village, a Fremont hamlet at the base of the eastern side of the range, indicate contemporaneous occupations between approximately 1,650 and 500 cal B.P. Combined with survey...
Article
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Intensive research on China's Western Loess Plateau has located 63 Palaeolithic deposits, which together allow the authors to present a general model of hominin occupation from 80 000 to 18 000 years ago. Tools, subsistence and settlement correlate nicely with the climate: The warmwet MIS3 seeing expansion andmore organised acquisition of quartz, a...
Article
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Recent excavations at the Dadiwan site in the western Loess Plateau, Gansu Province, People’s Republic of China (PRC), document the first continuous foraging-to-farming sequence in North China. The Dadiwan occupation began at about 80,000 BP and became regular by about 60,000 BP, probably before the arrival or evolution of modern Homo sapiens in No...
Article
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This paper reports the recent excavation of Unit Dadiwan06 at the Dadiwan site in Qin’an County, Gansu. A 65 ka chronological framework is established for Dadiwan06 on the basis of absolute dating (AMS 14C and OSL), stratigraphy, climate change events and archaeology. Artifact distributions reveal patterns of human behavioral variation and adaptati...
Article
Full-text available
By roughly 8,000 calendar years before the present (calBP), hunter-gatherers across a broad swath of north China had begun small-scale farming of broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) and foxtail millet (Setaria italica).1–6 According to traditional wisdom, this early millet farming evolved from the intensive hunter-gatherer adaptation represented b...
Article
The onset of Little Ice Age conditions in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains resulted in increased temporal and spatial variability, and hence uncertainty regarding the distribution and production of resources targeted by its inhabitants, the Western Mono. The Mono responded with a risk-averse strategy composed of lowland winter population aggreg...
Article
Full-text available
Western Mono acorn caches in the south-central Sierra Nevada are distributed in five km radii around central place winter settlements corresponding to predicted distributions, taking into account labor and travel costs associated with caching. Caches more than five km from winter settlements are distributed in a manner facilitating spring residenti...
Article
Full-text available
The details of late Pleistocene human evolution in northeast Asia are the subject of considerable debate. We know little about the earliest appearance of anatomically modern humans and next to nothing about their pre-modern, “archaic” H. sapiens predecessors. The research reported here speaks to this problem by establishing an archaeological record...
Article
The concept of the foraging radius is essential to understanding hunter–gatherer settlement, subsistence, and sociocultural complexity yet is notoriously difficult to reconstruct archaeologically. Late prehistoric Western Mono foraging radii in the southern Sierra Nevada were reconstructed using GIS analysis of least-cost path distances between dis...
Article
Full-text available
Degree granted in Anthropology. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of California, Davis, 2006.
Article
Full-text available
The archaeological evaluation of the Kell Cemetery, CA.-SCI-804H, was conducted to better understand late-nineteenth-century Catholic funerary practices and their ties to social status. It provides an excellent opportunity to analyze the artifactual remains in order to answer specific questions concerning chronology, trade patterns, human populatio...

Questions

Question (1)
Question
I'm an archaeologist interested in directly dating human-made (by pecking and grinding) depressions in granite outcrops. The features are called bedrock mortars (used to process acorn) and are likely 5000 or fewer years old. They vary from a few to more than 20 cm deep and are usually <20 cm in diameter.

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Projects

Projects (5)
Project
This research documents spatial and temporal variability of prehistoric human activity in the Uvs Nuur Basin, from the late Pleistocene to the middle Holocene. Our efforts are focused on understanding how human groups used a diverse landscape of resources and how this use changed in response to glacial and post-glacial ecological change. Specifically, collect data on the location and density of archaeological materials for the purpose of understanding the settlement, demography, subsistence, technology, and monumentality of hunter-gatherers and early herders.
Project
This is a time-transgressive, cross-cultural analysis seeking to explain how and why hunter-gatherer economies and their affiliated social and political structures change over time.
Project
This project seeks to explain forager-farmer and hunter-herder transitions in arid northwestern Asia using archaeological and paleoenvironmental datasets.