Isotopic Perspectives on Spatial and Temporal Variability in British Columbia Paleodiet


This study aggregates and re-evaluates all available stable isotope data from archaeological human remains in British Columbia. Isotope signatures for coastal individuals correspond well with the heavy marine specialization attested to by archaeological and ethnographic studies of traditional Northwest Coast diets. Within this marine specialization, the data for coastal BC demonstrate a high degree of regional dietary variability, although high trophic level marine prey species are of ubiquitous importance. No large-scale temporal shifts are present in coastal diets, with consistent carbon and nitrogen δ-values across the entire timespan represented. Despite the near universal marine specialization, notable outliers exist throughout the coast, with three individuals’ fully terrestrial diets contrasting significantly with regional dietary patterns. In the BC interior diets are much more variable, representing a range between purely terrestrial to mixed marine (anadromous fish) and terrestrial. Along salmon-bearing rivers, the apparent marine component of diet is positively correlated with downstream proximity to the ocean.

Cite this Record

Isotopic Perspectives on Spatial and Temporal Variability in British Columbia Paleodiet. Joseph Hepburn, Brian Chisholm, Michael Richards. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430049)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17475