Warm or Cold Season of Capture? Oyster Middens from Block Island, Rhode Island

Author(s): David Leslie; Kevin McBride

Year: 2017


Previous research on Block Island, Rhode Island, indicates that during the Woodland Period, the island was likely occupied year-round and maritime resources accounted for a significant portion of peoples’ diets. Native American sites on the island include semi-permanent villages near the Great Salt Pond and fishing, temporary seasonal, and task specific camps away from villages. Season of occupation for these sites is important to frame our understanding of a developing maritime economy. Several oyster middens (Crassostrea virginica), associated with Woodland Period sites were identified on Block Island during a Phase I and II survey of the coastline, conducted to document and salvage archaeological sites exposed and disturbed by Hurricane Sandy. Archaeological oyster shells were powdered at the terminal growth band and analyzed for stable isotope values (δ18O). To determine season of capture, archaeological δ18O values were contrasted with modern oyster shell δ18O values, collected from three separate locations on Block Island; these were sampled incrementally from the terminal growth band along the hinge to estimate modern seasonal shell growth. A number of the archaeological sites also contained faunal remains indicative of season of capture (Atlantic Sturgeon and Grey and Harbor Seals) providing a check for shell-derived season of capture estimates.

Cite this Record

Warm or Cold Season of Capture? Oyster Middens from Block Island, Rhode Island. David Leslie, Kevin McBride. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431181)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14864