1
$\begingroup$

I am studying some maps of prehistoric cultures in North America, noting the relationship between their villages and the rivers they are near. I notice each civilization seems grouped around rivers that are constrained to a certain area. E.g. culture X has villages all along river A, river B, and river C. Culture Y, just over some mountain range, has villages all along river D and E, but no villages near the river used by culture X. Similarly, Culture Z isn't too far away, yet it has its own rivers entirely, having villages at the headwaters and all along its length.

I'm trying to find if there is some geological connection between the rivers, e.g. A, B, and C are part of the same "watershed" or maybe same "river valley", "river system" or something, but these terms don't seem to fit my searches. The term "river valley" seems closest, but I can't find people using this term in the same context, and also the rivers are 100-200 miles long, hardly seems a valley can be that big. These are rivers flowing into "dips" that are easily 100 miles wide.

Is there any common term and way a geologist will find a connection between several rivers sharing a specific area?

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Drainage basin? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drainage_basin "Other terms for drainage basin are catchment area, catchment basin, drainage area, river basin, water basin, and impluvium. In North America, the term watershed is commonly used to mean a drainage basin, though in other English-speaking countries, it is used only in its original sense, that of a drainage divide." $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 8:23
2
$\begingroup$

Drainage basin or drainage system

Drainage basin are defined by drainage pattern, which is controlled by the underlying geology and landform.

enter image description here

more on what creates the pattern.

https://www.wvca.us/envirothon/pdf/Drainage%20Patterns.pdf

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Think about this backwards: instead of thinking that civilizations happen to live in specific watersheds, consider that it is the mountains that force them to live in these separate watersheds. Rivers, like many early cultures, are "orographically constrained", topography will dictate how separate and distinct they become over time from one another.

Sure, other factors come into play, like distance, weather, and food availability, but mountains, aka "orographic barriers" require significant material and energy resources to overcome. Even low hills present a challenge to a calorie-scarce community. An "orographic barrier" is an "energy barrier" in many different ways.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.