Zimmerman, Laurie Sue (1997-12). Dietary reconstruction and subsistence strategies of prehistoric hunter gatherers of the Texas Gulf Coast. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Ethnohistorical and archeological data sets from 13 shell-bearing midden sites were integrated to reconstruct the annual dietary regime and the subsistence strategies of hunting and gathering populations living along the Upper Texas Coast from 5,039 B.C. until A.D. 1700. Hunter-fisher-gatherers represents the adaptational pattern characterizing the indigenous populations. Large mammals, particularly deer and bison, represented economically important resources. Fish, shellfish, and plant resources were other important dietary constituents. The results indicate that the aboriginal populations were highly attuned to their environment, carefully scheduling subsistence activities. Population aggregates formed in high density resource areas. These areas are characterized by abundant non-mobile, predictable, low-risk resources such as nuts, tubers, fish, and shellfish. Residential mobility patterns may be correlated with seasonal changes and resource density. Logistical mobility patterns enabled the indigenous populations to complement their resource base by exploiting adjacent inland or coastal habitats. Evidence supporting subsistence diversification has been documented in the present study by the increase in the exploitation of smaller sized mammals and fish, the extraction of both marrow and grease in an effort to provide fat, and by technological innovations occurring by A.D. 100 that include: the initial use of ceramic containers and the initial use of the bow and arrow (Aten 1983b:321).

publication date

  • December 1997