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date: 09 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Development of the historic Plateau cultures is not one of gradual in situ change across the millennia of the Holocene. Rather, recent evidence suggests a far more complex history involving local change, cultural extinctions, and major intra- and extraregional population expansions and contractions. This article offers a short overview of major trends in this history and considers a range of explanatory arguments, particularly focusing on the evolution of variation in Plateau villages. More specifically, it argues that Plateau archaeologists need to draw a distinction between socioeconomically “complex” communities and those designated as “sociopolitically” complex because different processes affected their respective evolution (i.e., the process of historical development that excludes any teleological assumptions).

Keywords: Northwestern North America, Plateau cultures, local change, cultural extinctions, population expansions, Plateau villages, communities

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