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A Burial in the Bay: Evidence for Environment and Diet 7500 Years Ago

Author(s): R. Varney ; Peter Kovácik ; Linda Scott Cummings ; Barbara Winsborough

Year: 2015

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Microscopic and macroscopic evaluation of samples associated with a 7570 CAL BP burial recovered on the west side of San Francisco Bay provides multiple proxy records representing the environment at the time this person was interred and possibly foods consumed by this individual. The pollen and macrofloral records indicate evidence of coastal or littoral plants, one of which, soaproot, also contributed abundantly to the macrofloral record. A wide variety of trees grew in the bay area, as did shrubby and herbaceous plants and cool season grasses. Plants that might have been part of this individual's diet include California huckleberry, elderberry, prickly pear cactus, members of the mustard and mint families, manzanita, mustards, and perhaps other plants. The most abundant diatoms in both samples are marine to brackish, epipelic species, adapted to live primarily in tidal and supratidal mud flats and salt marshes that are frequently, perhaps diurnally, flooded. The diatom record provides direct evidence of conditions in the bay mud as it accumulated around the burial in the estuary. Together these proxies represent the local environment at 7570 CAL BP as well as for an indeterminate time after interment when the lower bay muds accumulated.

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A Burial in the Bay: Evidence for Environment and Diet 7500 Years Ago. R. Varney, Linda Scott Cummings, Peter Kovácik, Barbara Winsborough. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396958)


Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America