Food and the environment: a model of potential resource variation for portions of the Choke Canyon Reservoir Area of South Texas



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Texas Tech University


One of the major aims of archaeology is the reconstruction of past lifeways of people. Both technology and economy are part of that lifeway. Subsistence is one aspect of economy and is defined as the cultural behaviors which deal with the procurement of food and water. Understanding of subsistence possibilities rests upon a clear understanding of what is present and edible in the environment. The timespan between the end of the aboriginal period (ca. 1770) and the present is not great in the portion of South Texas known as the Choke Canyon Reservoir Area. The environment in the area in the 1530’s and the contemporary environment are similar in many respects, containing many of the same edible plants and animals. Formulation of a contemporary environmental model should be made before the late aboriginal period hunting and gathering subsistence economies can be fully understood. This model should specify edible resources available as a potential resource base for a hunting and gathering subsistence economy. This thesis, concentrating on a 6,285 acre portion of the Choke Canyon Reservoir Area, formulates such a model. Nine separate vegetation communities are defined within this acreage and their edible resources specified by the model. The model uses possible agricultural modification, topography, soil type and available soil moisture, and dominant vegetation to classify variations in the environment into named plant communities. The model, as formulated, is valid for approximately 600 square miles of South Texas in the Nueces River drainage, centering on the town of Three Rivers. It should prove useful in interpreting late aboriginal period hunting and gathering subsistence economies.