A Piece of Salted Snakehead and Its Implications for the Nineteenth-Century Chinese Diaspora Fish Trade

Author(s): J Ryan Kennedy; Leland Rogers

Year: 2019

Summary

This is an abstract from the "One of a Kind: Approaching the Singular Artifact and the Archaeological Imagination" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Archaeologists have traditionally relied upon large datasets to investigate historical fishing industries, the distribution of fish products, and the effect of fishing on the environment. Such studies make critical contributions to understandings of past fisheries; however, not all fish stories require large datasets. We present one such study using ancient DNA analysis to examine snakehead fish bones from the Market Street Chinatown, a nineteenth-century Chinese community in San Jose, California. Whereas most fish in Chinese diaspora sites are assumed to come from fisheries in North America and China, ancient DNA analysis reveals that these snakehead bones, potentially from one piece of salt fish, derived from a Giant Snakehead (Channa micropeltes) native to Southeast Asia rather than China. We use this evidence to demonstrate how the nineteenth-century Chinese salt fish trade encompassed fisheries and diaspora communities throughout the Pacific Ocean, an interpretation not possible from aggregate zooarchaeological data alone.

Cite this Record

A Piece of Salted Snakehead and Its Implications for the Nineteenth-Century Chinese Diaspora Fish Trade. J Ryan Kennedy, Leland Rogers. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449042)

Keywords

Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 258