Stable isotope evidence for precontact Amerindian diet in Newfoundland, Canada


For a millennium, the island of Newfoundland was home to two cultures: the Palaeoeskimo, and the Amerindians who later became known historically as the Beothuk. Evidence from site distribution patterns suggests that each culture negotiated the shared space by utilizing different resources. However, after 1500 years BP, the cultural dynamics of the island began to shift as a period of climate warming altered the resources that were available on the outer coast. While the Palaeoeskimo may have been forced to retreat to mainland Canada, the generalized marine-terrestrial economy of the Amerindians is credited with their successful sustained occupation of insular Newfoundland. Biomolecular research undertaken as part of an interdisciplinary research project investigating Amerindian origins, diet and mobility patterns in Newfoundland has allowed us to test these hypotheses, yielding new evidence for subsistence patterns. This paper considers agency and subsistence adaptability in light of stable isotope data from Amerindian (n = 21) and faunal skeletal remains spanning over 1000 years of Newfoundland history. We model the dietary strategies enacted by the Amerindians that enabled them to successfully cope with the demands of the island environment.

Cite this Record

Stable isotope evidence for precontact Amerindian diet in Newfoundland, Canada. Alison Harris, Ana T. Duggan, Stephanie Marciniak, Hendrik Poinar, Vaughan Grimes. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404656)

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min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;