Elizabeth J. Reitz
Data from three early European-sponsored colonies in North America indicate that changes in animal use occurred quickly. Over half of the meat from vertebrate sources in a Spanish assemblage associated with the first permanent European settlement on the Atlantic coast (Florida) and a French assemblage from the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico near Mobile (Alabama) are from local, wild animals. The English assemblage associated with Charles Towne (South Carolina) reflects the rapid development of a short-lived cattle industry. Early colonists by and large practised a strategy that combined similar arrays of local wild meat sources with pork or beef regardless of the national affiliation of the colony, the ethnicity of the colonists, or the century in which colonization occurred.
The DNA Evidence for the Human Colonization and Spread Across the Americas: Implications for the Peopling of the Caribbean
This article notes that the field of population genetics can contribute to efforts to learn about the pre-Columbian migrations to the Caribbean that gave rise to the different societies, which existed by the end of the fifteenth century. Nonrecombining elements of DNA have been the most common tool of choice of scientists tracing the routes by which humans colonized the world from East Africa. These have been the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the nonrecombining region of the Y chromosome (NRY). Genetic drift may explain why only 7 of the 19 Amerindian mtDNA lineages described for Puerto Rico can be found in Hispaniola, producing a statistically significant population differentiation between both islands. An alternative explanation may be that the Amerindian mtDNAs from both islands originated through different migratory processes.
Rebecca M. Dean
The Hohokam of Arizona, USA, created one of the most intensive agricultural systems in North America. Their hunting economy intensified along with the agricultural system, but intensification (measured through the diversification of hunting strategies) was mitigated by a variety of processes, not all of which are easily understood by traditional methods of measuring intensification, such as diet breadth models. Hunting intensification was limited by constraints placed on hunters due to agricultural labour needs, and affected by changes in local landscapes for agricultural purposes. The hunting behaviour of the Hohokam cannot be understood solely in its own terms, as a product of optimal decision-making based on the availability of prey in the landscape at large. Rather, decisions were contextualized within the constraints of the social and labour organization of the agricultural system, and were contingent on the changes that had been made to that landscape as a result of agricultural demands.
Jason E. Laffoon
This article discusses the applications of isotope analyses to insular Caribbean contexts, with a special emphasis on the uses of strontium and oxygen isotope analyses to investigate the movement of humans, animals, and materials from the archaeological record. The first applications of these approaches to Caribbean materials are very recent, but their results indicate both the enormous potential of these techniques and some of their limitations. The discussion considers the future course of this research topic in the Caribbean, with some suggestions for how to further develop these approaches and ways in which they might contribute to archaeological discourses on mobility and diet within the circum-Caribbean.
William J. Pestle
This article presents an overview of the history of Caribbean archaeological carbon and nitrogen stable isotope studies, a history that is paradoxically notable both for the precociousness of its first appearance and the subsequent dearth of large and meaningful studies. It provides a synopsis of the methodological underpinnings of paleodietary reconstruction by stable isotope analysis and discusses some of the unique challenges encountered in the use of this technique in Caribbean contexts. After reviewing some of the more meaningful studies of Caribbean archaeological materials, the article concludes with some thoughts on future prospects for the use of C and N stable isotope analysis for paleodietary reconstruction in archaeological research in the Caribbean Basin.
Heather A. Lapham
This chapter highlights zooarchaeology’s contribution to our understanding of the trade in animal pelts (furs, skins, and hides) that flourished between Native Americans and Europeans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in eastern North America. Hides from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) dominated exchanges in the southern trades, whereas the northern trades focused mainly on acquiring pelts from American beaver (Castor canadensis) and other fur-bearing animals. Zooarchaeological signatures of hunting to procure deerskins for commercial trade are outlined on the basis of evidence from Native American animal economies in southwestern Virginia. A case study focused on early historic-period Susquehannock deer hunting and beaver harvesting in south-central Pennsylvania is then presented.
John D. Speth
For the past 13,000 years Indians in the North American Great Plains hunted bison (Bison bison and B. antiquus) in large communally organized drive operations. This chapter briefly describes the taxonomy of fossil and living bison, the behaviour of modern bison, and what is known from ethnohistoric and archaeological sources about the ways that Indians conducted these drives, including the use of foot surrounds, cliff jumps, arroyo traps, and pounds (corrals). The chapter concludes by considering whether such drives were conducted annually in the late fall and/or early winter as a means of winter provisioning; or instead were conducted periodically, but not necessarily annually, and at many different times of year, as a socio-political mechanism for integrating otherwise widely dispersed and highly mobile hunting bands.
Gregory G. Monks
The Northwest Coast of North America (NWC) is a culture area that extends from the Klamath River in northern California to Yakutat Bay in southeastern Alaska. The area’s topography varies from a relatively linear open Pacific shoreline in Oregon and Washington to a highly irregular shoreline of islands, archipelagos, and fjords with mountains often descending precipitously into the sea. Archaeology on the Northwest Coast of North America has a relatively short history, and zooarchaeology has an even shorter one. This paper presents a summary of that history for the pre-contact period, traces the research that has been done to date and suggests some directions for future studies.