Defining the Environmental Context of Indigenous Agriculture in the Southwest: What We Don't Know about Mid-to-Late Holocene Climate Change and Floodplain Dynamics
By Gary Huckleberry
Gary Huckleberry, a geomorphologist, considers postglacial climate and landscape change in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico in Chapter 3. This is the context of the northward diffusion of agriculture, but climate proxy evidence for this period (e.g., packrat middens, pollen, paleoflood chronologies, laminated sediments, etc.) is often contradictory. He reviews what is known and unknown regarding the middle to late Holocene climate in the Southwest and focuses on those aspects most relevant to indigenous agriculture and fluvial geomorphology. Both climate and geomorphology are important because they created limits and opportunities for precolumbian farmers. He further discusses climatic connections to floods and floodplain dynamics and concludes with recommendations for improving our understanding of Holocene paleoclimate and floodplain processes.