Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Tom D. Dillehay


This dissertation describes the results of archaeological survey and excavationsundertaken on the Mesa el Chaparral in the county of Mina in Nuevo Leon, Mexicoduring 2001. Sixty-six previously undocumented archaeological sites were discovered onthe arid surface. Excavations found no intact subsurface deposits, but a wealth of surfacedata was collected. Subsequent analyses demonstrated a forager lifeway for the majorityof the Holocene human occupation of the region in a remarkably stable pattern.To understand sites found on the deflated modern surface necessitatedcontemplation of the basic theories and models used in hunter-gatherer research. Thisallowed for the construction of new diagrams designed to hypothesize fundamentalrelationships between general aspects of the lifeway including environmental factors, sitesize and visibility issues, and human mobility patterns. From some basic continuums,more detailed diagrams were created that allow understanding and prediction of humanbehavior based upon data found from artifacts and features. After testing their salience,the models were dynamically combined with the site data and ethnographic analogies toarrive at an understanding of the human lifeways represented by the recoveredarchaeological data. This provided a fascinating look into the day-to-day lives of thegeneralized mobile foragers of prehistoric northeastern Mexico.Included in the recovered data are hearth features, lithic debitage and artifacts,and basic site descriptions. Archaeological locations ranged from small with a singlefeature to over a square kilometer with over 100 features, all located on the surface wherethey are subject to wind deflation and water erosion. Most of the sites containeddiagnostic artifacts from the entire Holocene, further compounding the analyticcomplexity of the project. Understanding the context of the data and making use of themodels and ethnographic analogies, it was estimated that every site represented anoccupation by a small band of mobile forgers making generalized use of the resourcesavailable in the region. Making residential moves often allowed people to survive in theharsh environment. Few lifeway changes were noted prior to Spanish influence in theregion from the time the environment became arid at the end of the Pleistocene.