Potentials and Pitfalls for ZooMS Analysis in the Pacific: A Case Study from Ofu Island (Manu‘a Group, American Samoa)


This is an abstract from the "Zooarchaeology and Technology: Case Studies and Applications" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Zooarchaeological analysis in the Pacific is often limited by the large proportion of small, highly fragmented, non-diagnostic remains recovered from archaeological sites. Recent advances in biomolecular methods, including collagen peptide mass fingerprinting (a.k.a. ZooMS) enable increased taxonomic identifications and refine investigations related to human subsistence and biodiversity. The Samoan archipelago is one of the last island groups to be colonized by Lapita people and, as part of the ancestral Polynesian homeland, figures prominently in discussions of Oceanic migrations, species translocations, subsistence, and culture change. Reanalysis of the non-diagnostic medium mammal assemblage recovered from the To‘aga dune site via ZooMS provides new evidence for early commensal introductions and human activities. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of newly identified commensal fauna from To‘aga and elsewhere on Ofu Island further reveal patterns of human land use and ecosystem transformation throughout the island. This case study demonstrates the potential for technology-based methods to contribute to long-standing questions of species translocations and early subsistence economies across the Pacific. While such methods present exciting new opportunities for zooarchaeological analyses, particularly in collaboration with museums and archived collections, standards and guidelines for ethical sampling are critical.

Cite this Record

Potentials and Pitfalls for ZooMS Analysis in the Pacific: A Case Study from Ofu Island (Manu‘a Group, American Samoa). Jillian Swift, Samantha Brown, Patrick Kirch, Seth Quintus, Patrick Roberts. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450729)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 117.598; min lat: -29.229 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 53.12 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25454