Scallop, Clam, and Oyster: 4500 Years of Shellfish Harvest on the Rappahannock River, Virginia
Today, the Rappahannock River is known for having some of the best oysters on the east coast of North America, and people have been taking advantage of that resource for thousands of years. A large, multi-component shell midden site at Belle Isle State Park provides a glimpse into shellfish harvesting for the past 4500 years, and suggests that the estuary’s ecosystem changed significantly over that time period. During Woodland and Colonial phases of occupation, oyster makes up between 98 and 100% of shellfish remains at the site, but represents less than half of the shellfish consumed during the Late Archaic occupation. We explore some of the reasons behind this change, including possible shifts in human settlement patterns based on isotopic analysis of shellfish. We conclude that the faster pace of sea level rise during the middle Holocene promoted the development of a very different ecosystem than the one we see today, with important implications for resource management in the 21st and 22nd centuries.
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Scallop, Clam, and Oyster: 4500 Years of Shellfish Harvest on the Rappahannock River, Virginia. Leslie Reeder-Myers, Kathryn Cross. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443551)
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Abstract Id(s): 22078