Published In

American Antiquity

Document Type


Publication Date



Radiocarbon record -- analysis, Columbia Plateau -- archaeology


The late Pleistocene–early Holocene archaeological record of the interior Pacific Northwest is dominated by what has been regionally referred to as the Western Stemmed Tradition (WST). While various efforts have attempted to clarify the chronology of this tradition, these have largely focused on data from the Great Basin and have been disproportionately preoccupied with establishing the beginning of the tradition due to its temporal overlap with Clovis materials. Specifically focusing on the Columbia Plateau, we apply a series of Bayesian chronological models to create concise estimates of the most likely beginning, end, and span of the WST. We then further explore its chronology by modeling its temporal span under various parameters and criteria so as to better identify places in the chronology that need further work and those that are robust regardless of data iteration. Our analysis revealed four major findings: (1) WST conservatively dates between 13,000 and 11,000 cal BP, likely extending to ~13,500 cal BP; (2) the most problematic period for WST is its termination; (3) the WST is incredibly long-lived compared to roughly contemporary Paleoindian traditions; and (4) the WST was seemingly unaffected by the onset of the Younger Dryas.


© 2019 The Authors. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



Persistent Identifier