Calories, Canoes, and Cross-Channel Trade: Exploring the Efficiency of Maritime Subsistence Exchange

Author(s): Andrew Somerville; Mikael Fauvelle

Year: 2015


The exchange of botanical subsistence resources such as nuts and seeds is well documented in ethnohistoric accounts of Chumash trade across the Santa Barbara Channel. But on what scale was such exchange carried out? Due to the perceived marginality of island environments, it has long been assumed that the need to import subsistence goods from the mainland to the islands was a central instigator for cross-channel exchange. Recent research, however, has shown that the islands were characterized by more extensive terrestrial subsistence resources than previously understood. This paper will provide new experimentally determined caloric values for a number of important plant resources in southern California. Caloric values will be compared with canoe volumes in order to determine the caloric returns for cross-channel shipments. The resulting values will be compared with estimates for island populations with the goal of evaluating the efficiency of subsistence exchange in the channel area. Our results will provide important new data on several indigenous coastal plants and will have implications for the understanding of maritime exchange systems used by hunter-gatherers in island and coastal environments around the world.

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Cite this Record

Calories, Canoes, and Cross-Channel Trade: Exploring the Efficiency of Maritime Subsistence Exchange. Mikael Fauvelle, Andrew Somerville. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395122)

Spatial Coverage

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