Importation of deer bone to the Channel Islands, California, during the Middle Holocene

Author(s): Michael Glassow; Jennifer Perry

Year: 2015


Although California mule deer never inhabited the Channel Islands during prehistoric times, deer limb bone fragments commonly occur at Channel Islands sites dated to the Middle Holocene, and fragments of worked deer bone also occur. In addition, mortuary collections obtained in the 1920s dating to the Middle Holocene contain artifacts of deer bone, including ornaments and hair pins. We summarize the evidence of deer bone importation to the Channel Islands and argue that the abundance of deer bone items implies regular and relatively frequent commerce between the Channel Islands and the mainland, from where the deer bone was derived. We also point out that bone of animals living on or near the islands, such as dogs and sea mammals, also was utilized, perhaps as a substitute for deer bone when not available or when deer bone would not be the most appropriate material. We conclude that although the absence of deer on the Channel Islands may be construed as an indication of "marginality," Middle Holocene occupants were able to overcome marginality through commerce, despite boat technology seemingly less sophisticated than existed during the Late Holocene, and through substitution with bone from local sources.

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Cite this Record

Importation of deer bone to the Channel Islands, California, during the Middle Holocene. Michael Glassow, Jennifer Perry. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395121)

Spatial Coverage

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