Study of Human Ecodynamics at Tse-whit-zen, a 2,800-Year-Old Lower Elwha Klallam Coastal Village in Washington State, U.S.A.

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Extensive 2004 excavation of the Tse-whit-zen village, traditional home of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, documented multiple houses spanning the last 2,800 years with exceptionally fine geo-stratigraphic control; faunal samples from 10 L buckets, screened to 1/8" mesh, allow for detailed reconstruction of animal use. Occupation spans several large-magnitude earthquakes, periods of climate change, and a gradual increase in sheltered intertidal habitat. Our geo-zooarchaeological project provides an important case study that adds to developing scholarship in human ecodynamics, which uses archaeological and other multi-disciplinary knowledge to study the complex and dynamic interactions between humans and their environment in deep history. The link between social structure and social response to environmental stress has been highlighted in several case studies, but differential intracommunity resilience in the face of disaster has been little studied. Our project addresses this need by examining faunas—foundationall resources for any community—to evaluate the resilience of distinct social units in a marine forager community. We model and test the effects of environmental change on animal resources and examine both diachronic and synchronic variation in resource use by social units. Tribal members add their own perspectives on the importance of Tse-whit-zen and the recent archaeological project.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • Assessing Response of Tse-whit-zen's Large-bodied Fish to Environmental Change using Sampling to Redundancy (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Laura Syvertson. Virginia L. Butler.

    Tse-whitzen is one of the largest village excavations on the Northwest Coast; more than 1,400 features were documented and an estimated 234,563 fish bones were recovered from ¼" mesh alone. While research potential is great, the challenge of sampling such a huge assemblage is daunting. Previous research has focused on the >1/8" mesh matrix from "C" buckets, which emphasizes small-bodied fishes. To track changing representation of large-bodied fish through time and space, we devised a method of...

  • Beyond Radiocarbon: Using AMS Samples to Assess Woody Plant Use at Tse-whit-zen (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennie Shaw.

    Paleoethnobotany, while not a nascent field, is still an underutilized research framework in Pacific Northwest (PNW) archaeology. But increasingly, PNW projects have incorporated macrobotanical analyses as a precursor to radiocarbon dating. Analysts provide taxonomic identifications of woody fuel remains and assist in selecting fragments from short-lived genera that will mitigate the old wood effect, thereby increasing the accuracy of dates. This paper assesses the utility of an anthracological...

  • Habitat Change Versus Human Impact: Size and Frequency Trends in Multiple Taxa of Marine Invertebrates at Tse-whit-zen Village (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah K. Campbell. Erin Benson. Brendan Culleton. Douglas Kennett.

    Tectonic activity along coastlines can subtly or radically alter the substrate and elevation of the intertidal zone, thus affecting benthic marine invertebrates; however, there is no single signature for impacts. Research following mega-earthquakes in the last decade shows that the nature of the effects varies widely across taxa and locations. Analysis of the Tse-whit-zen village invertebrate fauna shows that mean sizes of bivalves of the genera Macoma, Leukoma, Saxidomus, and Tresus, and also...

  • How Were Pacific Cod at Tse-whit-zen Affected by Climate Change? (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patrick W. Rennaker. Virginia L. Butler.

    In 2011, U.S. federal agencies listed Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) in the Salish Sea as a species of concern. Fishery managers typically use historical data from the past ~ 50 years to create baselines to manage reduced fisheries, which does not take into account long term environmental change or how human populations have affected the ecosystem in the past. Archaeological data extends these baselines much further back in time. The Tse-whit-zen faunal project provides a ~ 2200 yr history...

  • Introduction to the Tse-whit-zen Site: Landform Evolution and Chronological Structure (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah L. Sterling. Sarah K. Campbell. Virginia L. Butler.

    Tse-whit-zen, a large ancestral village of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, located on the southern shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Port Angeles, WA, was excavated in 2004 as part of a transportation project. Its location on a protected bay adjacent to open marine habitats, and inland highlands gave site occupants advantages in acquiring terrestrial and marine resources. The site is situated on a series of beaches representing relict shorelines, which generally prograde seaward over time....

  • On the Ecodynamics of Fisheries at Tse-whit-zen (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Virginia L. Butler.

    On the northern Pacific Coast of North America, fish play an extremely important role in conceptual models related to hunter-gatherer evolution and social dynamics of household production and resource control. Our ability to rigorously apply archaeo-fish remains to these models is limited by substantial data requirements including well-documented contexts, high-resolution chronology, control over complex site formation processes and taphonomy, as well as large sample sizes. The 2004 excavation...

  • Predicting and Assessing the Impact of Environmental Events on Seabirds at Tse-whit-zen Village (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kristine Bovy.

    Seabird remains, especially murres, scoters, loons, grebes, shearwaters and gulls, are abundant in the Tse-whit-zen faunal assemblage. There is considerable biological research on the effects of climate change on seabirds, especially in light of recent climate trends; for example, responses of seabirds to increased sea surface temperatures associated with El Niño events are well documented. In contrast, there has been relatively little research on the effects of recent earthquakes on marine...

  • Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) and Human Ecodynamics at Tse-whit-zen and the Salish Sea (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Reno Nims. Virginia L. Butler.

    Zooarchaeological evidence from Tse-whit-zen indicates that juvenile sablefish, or black cod (Anoplopoma fimbria), played an important role in the village’s economy for ~2,200 years, but sablefish is scarcely mentioned in previous Northwest Coast archaeological research. The near-total absence of this species from other coastal sites in the Salish Sea cannot be explained by post-depositional destruction, screen size, sample size, or differences in zooarchaeological identification criteria. Thus,...

  • Shifting use of Mammals at Tse-whit-zen: Response to Gradual or Catastrophic Change? (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Etnier.

    The mammalian component of the Tse-whit-zen village (WA) midden samples is typical of Northwest Coast archaeological sites. However, overall identification rates are quite low, with only 8% to 11% of the overall number of mammal specimens (NSP) identified beyond Class. This pattern is driven by fragmentation and burning, with burned bone making up 18% to 44% of NSP. Burning rates peak in Chronozone 5 (CZ5, 525-1000 BP), while identification rates decrease steadily through time. Artiodactyls...

  • Specialization, Standardization, and Opportunism: A Design Theory Perspective on the Production of Cultural Necessities at Tse-whit-zen Village (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joseph Sparaga. Sarah K. Campbell. Laura Phillips.

    Lithic artifacts recovered from the Tse-whit-zen village, a large settlement on the coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca inhabited for 2,800 years, assist in portraying the choices made by people for adapting to the surrounding environment through tool development. Analysis of the lithic assemblage is based on a design theory approach that addresses material selection and reductive manufacturing strategies to understand efficiency, expediency, and reliability in forming the end products. The...

  • Washed Away? Was Tse-whit-zen Deserted in the Aftermath of Cascadian Earthquakes? (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ian Hutchinson. Sarah L. Sterling. Virginia L. Butler. Carrie Garrison-Laney.

    The northern segment of the Cascadia subduction zone has ruptured at least four times in the last 2000 years. Each of these giant earthquakes triggered a tsunami that potentially inundated the Tse-whit-zen village site to depths of 3-6 m and exposed it to currents of ~10 m/s. We compare the timing of these tsunamis, as recorded by wash-over deposits at Tse-whit-zen and sand sheets in the marshes at Discovery Bay, some 50 km to the east of Tse-whit-zen, with the palaeodemographic history of the...