Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Springer, James W.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology




The growth of archaeological understanding of the prehistoric Fremont culture in Utah is used as an example of how expanding knowledge and new techniques affect the interpretation of archaeological evidence. First, the concept of the Fremont culture is traced from the first reports by 19th century explorers and scientists of prehistoric remains in the northern two-thirds of Utah, through the proposition of a localized prehistoric Fremont culture complex in the Fremont drainage, on to the larger concept of Fremont peoples covering most of Utah and contiguous areas of Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada. Development of the Fremont concept continued with the introduction of interdisciplinary studies which resulted not only in increased knowledge of Fremont lifeways but also new ideas were presented concerning the origins of the Fremont complex and the sources of various aspects of their material culture. Second, a description of the characteristics of the Fremont culture is offered, contrasts and similarities are drawn between the currently accepted cultural sub-areas. Third, the climate, geography and resources of the Great Basin during the period preceding the Fremont are briefly described. The adaptations of the Desert Archaic culture to these conditions are reviewed in light of differing hypotheses and the question is examined as to whether the Fremont developed directly from the terminal Desert Archaic, or whether it was due to migration after a climatically induced cultural hiatus. In concluding, some of the major theories concerning the emergence about A.D. 400 and disappearance around A.D. 1300 of the Fremont Complex are examined and a trend toward particularization in three areas of archaeological interpretation is suggested.


Includes bibliographical references.


96 pages




Northern Illinois University

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