The Distribution and Chronology of Abalone Middens on the California Channel Islands


The California Channel Islands contain one of the most productive coastlines in the world. Despite the perceived marginality of available resources on the islands, they encompass approximately 428 linear kilometers of rocky and sandy bottom habitats that have abundant shellfish beds. Thousands of shell middens dated to the past 12,000 years attest to the importance of these resources to native islanders. In this paper, we define the ecology and biogeography of intertidal shellfish communities and summarize the paleoenvironmental conditions that directly affected the productivity of past marine environments. Abalone middens provide an ideal example to examine past human/environmental dynamics through time. For this paper, we provide a summary of the distribution and chronology of abalone middens across the Channel Islands. Although typically referred to as red abalone middens, they exhibit variability in the species of abalones and other faunal remains present, as well as in the types of artifacts and features that occur at these sites. The diversity of abalone middens suggests island-specific differences in shellfish communities, harvesting patterns, as well as the type of behavioral activities that took place at each site and on each island.

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Cite this Record

The Distribution and Chronology of Abalone Middens on the California Channel Islands. Queeny Lapeña, Jessica Morales, René Vellanoweth. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395119)


Geographic Keywords
North America - California

Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;