Robert L Bettinger

Robert L Bettinger
University of California, Davis | UCD · Department of Anthropology

Ph.D

About

145
Publications
57,131
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5,845
Citations
Citations since 2017
9 Research Items
2146 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230100200300
20172018201920202021202220230100200300
20172018201920202021202220230100200300

Publications

Publications (145)
Article
La jerarquización de recursos constituye uno de los procedimientos más empleados para evaluar la subsistencia de los cazadores-recolectores en el pasado. Para el Centro Occidente Argentino (COA) esta jerarquización se fundaba en el tamaño corporal de las presas. Aquí incorporamos datos sobre los costos de manejo, generando el primer ordenamiento de...
Article
This paper provides a theoretical treatment of hunter-gatherer diet and physiology. Through a synthesis of nutritional studies, informed by northeastern Pacific Rim ethno-archaeological data, we examine the risk of protein-rich diets for human survival, and how this militates against the widely held notion of a cultural “specialization” on dried sa...
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...
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Storage has long been recognized as critical to understanding the behavior and cultural evolution of hunting and gathering communities living at mid-latitudes throughout the world. Storage is a complex and powerful strategy, with profound results for human behavior and evolutionary consequences such as sedentism and population growth, increased soc...
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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
A regional approach to the archaeological record—one that includes not only large, stratified sites, but also small, ephemeral ones, surface finds, and isolates—provides a more representative sample of prehistoric landscape use than do stratified sites alone. In southern Mendoza Province, Argentina the stratified site record suggests both demograph...
Data
This is an Excel database providing the data used by Joseph Jorgensen as the basis for his monumental work, Western Indians (1980, WH Freeman). I am making this available as it has been made clear to me there are copies of the database with errors. Jorgensen sent these data to me on floppy disks in 1994, when we were conversing about topics of mutu...
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Significance From warfare to homicide, lethal violence is an all too common aspect of the human experience, yet we still do not have a clear explanation of why individuals kill one another. We suggest the search for an answer should begin with an empirical understanding of where and when individuals are more prone to experience violence. Examining...
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Obsidian is abundant in archaeological sites throughout Mendoza Province, Argentina but no obsidian hydration rates exist to date these assemblages. Direct dating of obsidian artifacts is particularly important in west-central Argentina because the surface record is extensive but well-defined time marker artifacts are lacking. The costs of non-opti...
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Among the many useful yardsticks of evolutionary success, trajectory of population growth is perhaps the most telling, and it is the focus on this metric that makes the contribution by Zahid et al. (1) in PNAS so compelling. They document hunter–gatherer population growth between 13,000 and 6,000 y ago in the western US states of Wyoming and Colora...
Chapter
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In this concluding chapter, we discuss the important difference between theories that focus on consequences and ones that focus on processes. Most theories in anthropology rest on generalizations about consequences and, as such, cannot be reconciled with the natural sciences or a Darwinian approach to hunter-gatherers. The neo-Darwinian theories pr...
Chapter
Cultural transmission theory—sometimes called dual inheritance theory—is the focus of this chapter. The neo-Darwinian models presented here treat cultural transmission and reproduction as extrasomatic rather than simple biological analogs. This leads to predictions about behavior that differ fundamentally from those that follow from the genetic mod...
Chapter
Neo-Darwinian theories explain macro-level phenomena as the cumulative consequence of explicitly defined processes acting on a micro level, specifically on reproductive individuals. There are currently three schools of neo-Darwinian thought in anthropology: evolutionary archaeology, human behavioral ecology, and cultural transmission theory (someti...
Chapter
Hunter-gatherer theory is fundamentally comparative, materialist, and evolutionary, and these ideas have very ancient roots. Two distinct general models of hunter-gatherers are introduced: the developmental model, which historically emphasized progressive social evolution and saw hunter-gatherers as a basal or low point in progressive evolutionary...
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This chapter, the second of two detailing historical approaches to hunter-gatherers, centers on American schools of thought from approximately 1600 to 1960. We describe the continuing influence of progressive social evolutionary theory as anthropology became a formal discipline and generally forward-thinking policy-makers were forced to confront “t...
Chapter
Optimal foraging theory is a logical extension of the materialist perspective described in previous chapters, and viewed by some as an alternative to middle-range theory that is both more solidly grounded in formal theory and more directly related to the basic materialist concerns of subsistence and settlement that have traditionally dominated anth...
Chapter
Neo-Marxism is an alternative general theory available to hunter-gatherer researchers that views classes, class interest, and class conflict as providing the context for discussing social theory. In Marxist thought, objectivity is a myth, and hunter-gatherers were the original egalitarian communist society: groups where classes do not exist, capita...
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The tradition of middle-range theory that dominated the discipline by the 1980s sought to assign meaning to the archaeological record by linking the static (archaeological facts) to the dynamic (human behavior). Importantly, it forced archaeologists to attend to matters of verification and meaning more explicitly. The middle-range program of Lewis...
Chapter
More complex optimal foraging models include those that incorporate a number of interactive elements that simpler models overlook. The linear programming model is one that addresses overarching goals or strategic solutions and is designed to incorporate an array of currencies and constraints. Models incorporating resource variability and risk inclu...
Book
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http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/anthropology+&+archaeology/book/978-1-4899-7580-5
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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...
Book
Orderly Anarchy delivers a provocative and innovative reexamination of sociopolitical evolution among Native American groups in California, a region known for its wealth of prehistoric languages, populations, and cultural adaptations. Scholars have tended to emphasize the development ofsocial complexity and inequality to explain this diversity. Rob...
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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...
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The identification and dating of South Temple Canyon 1 (STC 1), an Early Upper Paleolihic (EUP) site in north-central China near Shuidonggou (SDG), helps confirm that SDG is one of the earliest EUP sites in northern Asia. Materials from STC 1 bear a strong resemblance to the early SDG core-and-blade lithic technology that includes flat-faced cores...
Article
The effect of rapid climate change during the Late Upper Paleolithic on hunter-gatherers is attested by a variety of signals in the archaeological record. One of these, the spread of the microblade technology in North China, shows a particularly close relationship with climate change. The appearance of microblades and functionally related bone and...
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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...
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Despite the enormous potential of anadromous fish, foragers do not mass extract and store salmonids until very late in the archaeological record of California. Acorns, by contrast, were intensively used quite early in the record. Salmon are traditionally viewed as a low cost, high ranking resource, and acorns as a high cost, low ranking resource. T...
Article
The bow more than doubled, likely tripled, the success of individuals bent on killing animal or human targets (Box ). The advent of this revolutionary technology generated different responses in western North America depending on subsistence and sociopolitical organization at the time of its arrival, roughly 2300 - 1300 B.P. Its effect was substant...
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Some 15,000 to 10,000 years ago, humans started seeding and harvesting plants and maintaining animals in order to augment the food they obtained from wild-growing plants and hunting. These seemingly simple activities set in motion a long-term process that has led to the dominance of agriculture as we know it today. With the exception of a few remai...
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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...
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In his News & Analysis story “Do island sites suggest a coastal route to the Americas?” (4 March, p. [1122][1]), M. Balter discusses the implications of evidence that more than 10,000 years ago, people used marine resources and specialized technology on California's Channel Islands. He mentions
Article
Chapter 1. How To Calculate Optimal Diet Breadth Chapter 2. Optimal Foraging with Constraints: Linear Programming Chapter 3. Front- and Back-Loaded Resources: Caching Chapter 4. Technological Investment Chapter 5. Field Processing II Appendices
Article
a b s t r a c t The paper examines Middle Holocene hunter-gatherer adaptive strategies in the Baikal region of Siberia based on diverse data (radiocarbon, mortuary, geochemical, genetic, human osteological, and zooarchaeological) accumulated over the last 10–15 years. The new model emphasizes the cyclical nature of the long-term changes and recogni...
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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...
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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...
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p>Key trends in California prehistory diverge from those characteristic of other world regions; sophisticated advances in the application of human behavioral ecology to archaeological interpretation help us to understand why. Significant interpretive advances have been stimulated by the on-going "provisioning" versus "costly signaling" debate. We a...
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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...
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Villages with well-built dwellings and extensive chipped- and ground-stone assemblages found between 3,130 m and 3,854 m in the White Mountains, California, and Toquima Range, Nevada, indicate intensive seasonal use of both ranges by groups engaged in alpine plant and animal procurement. Lichenometric measurements, radiocarbon assays, and time-sens...
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The development of agriculture was limited by external constraints, mainly climate, before the Holocene and mainly by social institutions after that. Population size and growth was important but ultimately did not determine where and why agriculture evolved.
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In contrast to evolutionary ecology and evolutionary archaeology, macroevolutionary archaeology argues that human evolution is the result of more than just natural selection and selection-shaped decision making acting on individuals and that its broader trajectory is not random but structured. The rugged fitness landscape featured in Sewall Wright’...
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Stable isotope biochemistry (delta(13)C and delta(15)N) and radiocarbon dating of ancient human and animal bone document 2 distinct phases of plant and animal domestication at the Dadiwan site in northwest China. The first was brief and nonintensive: at various times between 7900 and 7200 calendar years before present (calBP) people harvested and s...
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Demography plays a large role in cultural evolution through its effects on the effective rate of innovation. If we assume that useful inventions are rare, then small isolated societies will have low rates of invention. In small populations, complex technology will tend to be lost as a result of random loss or incomplete transmission (the Tasmanian...
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We used a sample of 5285 Great Basin projectile points to test several implications of the general prediction from Neo-Darwinist culture transmission theory that variation in a socially-transmitted behavior will vary inversely with: 1) its complexity; 2) the complexity of the social and technical context in which it occurs; and 3) the number of ind...
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Since at least the early 1800's, when the Danish scholar Christian Jurgensen Thomsen used stylistic information to assign individual artifacts to their correct temporal phase and used this information to make inferences about behavior, style and function have played an important part in recognizing, understanding, and reconstructing prehistoric lif...
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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...
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Agriculture can evolve independently only where intensive hunter-gatherer plant use has previously evolved, and both developments are limited by two major evolutionary constraints: climatic variability and social convention. During the Pleistocene, environmental variability constrained plant productivity and therefore plant-intensive subsistence; b...
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Because Holocene hunter–gatherers are the best known representatives of the original human lifeway, they are popularly viewed as representing the whole of that lifeway. The term Holocene should give pause here, however, for it roughly translates in Greek as “wholly modern,” and, as we shall see, Holocene hunter–gatherers constitute but a very speci...
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Ugan, Bright and Rogers [When is technology worth the trouble? Journal of Archaeological Science 30 (10) (2003) 1315–1329] develop procurement and processing versions of an optimization model, termed the tech investment model, to formalize the conditions that favor investing time in the manufacture of more productive but more costly technologies. T...
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subdiscipline, yet it is difficult to define an approach to the study of hunter-gatherers that can legitimately be termed archaeological. Apart from a battery of specialized techniques and tactics (none exclusive to hunter-gatherer research), there is little that separates archaeologist from cultural anthropologist where hunter­ gatherers are conce...
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Take a trip to the end of the ice age with a fictional guide.
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The area along the eastern and southeastern margins of the Tengger Desert, NW China, which is sensitive to the summer monsoon variations, was selected for studying the environmental conditions surrounding the transition between Paleolithic foragers and Neolithic farmer/pastoralists. Short cores were obtained from four lake basins in the southwester...
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Shuidonggou is unique within the Chinese Palaeolithic sequence and its assemblage is reminiscent of Upper Palaeolithic core-and-blade technologies in Mongolia and southern Siberia. Limited chronological controls have prevented evaluation of this technology in both the Chinese and greater Eurasian Palaeolithic. Dating of recently discovered hearths...
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Analysing hunter-gatherer societies past, present and might-have-been.
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Several independent trajectories of subsistence intensification, often leading to agriculture, began during the Holocene. No plant-rich intensifications are known from the Pleistocene, even from the late Pleistocene when human populations were otherwise quite sophisticated Recent data from ice and ocean-core climate proxies show that last glacial c...
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The study of artifact standardization is an important line of archaeological archaeological inquiry that continues to be plagued by the lack of an independent scale that would indicate what a highly variable or highly standardized assemblage should look like. Related to this problem is the absence of a robust statistical technique for comparing var...
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The known distributions of two mutational variants of the albumin gene that are restricted to Mexico and/or North America, Albumin Mexico (AL*Mexico) and Albumin Naskapi (AL*Naskapi), were expanded by the electrophoretic analysis of sera collected from more than 3, 500 Native Americans representing several dozen tribal groups. With a few exceptions...
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Decrease in projectile paint size around 1350 B.P. is commonly regarded as marking the replacement of the atlatl by the bow and an ow across rile Great Basin. The point typology most widely employed in the GI eat Basin before about 1980 (the Berkeley typology) uses weight to distinguish larger, dart points from smaller; but similar ly shaped, arrow...
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The use of latest Pleistocene-Holocene paleosols in defining Chinese climatic sequences is plagued by poor chronological controls caused primarily by the use of radiocarbon dates derived from bulk soil carbon. Dating of a post-glacial aeolian/paleosol sequence in the Pigeon Mountain basin of north-central China, using culturally deposited charcoal,...