Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Applied Archaeology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Gusick, Amy


A series of severe and prolonged droughts occurred throughout the Northern Hemisphere between approximately 1150 BP to 600 BP. This phenomenon is referred to as the Medieval Climatic Anomaly and has been shown to have differentially impacted various regions of the world. Previous studies have suggested causal links between the Medieval Climatic Anomaly and observed culture change.

The goal of this study was to examine the Antelope Valley region of the Mojave Desert for evidence of impacts on human populations related to the Medieval Climatic Anomaly. To achieve this goal, a sample selection of archaeological sites was chosen from lands within Edwards Air Force Base. These sites represented occupations which occurred immediately before, during, and after the Medieval Climatic Anomaly. Site assemblages were analyzed and compared by cultural period, with cross-comparisons made of artefactual and ecofactual constituents. Site densities and areal extents were also examined and compared.

These analyses showed the emergence of trends concurrent with the introduction of the Medieval Climatic Anomaly. The data supports the hypothesis that humans who populated the Antelope Valley region of the Mojave Desert during this period may have engaged in population aggregation, with a tethered nomadism subsistence strategy. The data also shows evidence that upon the amelioration of the environment after the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, site characteristics within the region saw a significant shift.

While the evidence generated by this study does suggest a link between climatic change experienced during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly and change observed within the archaeology of the Antelope Valley, it does not suggest climate as a sole, or even primary, causal factor. Rather, the intent of this study was to identify one possible variable responsible for observed change that occurred in the region. With this in mind, the Medieval Climatic Anomaly was found to have been significant enough to have either directly or indirectly impacted the prehistoric occupants of the study region.