New insights from old collections: Investigating bird bones from Pacific Northwest shell middens


This is an abstract from the "From Middens to Museums: Papers in Honor of Julie K. Stein" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Julie Stein has been a leader in facilitating research on legacy collections in the Pacific Northwest Coast. Although challenges exist when working with existing collections in museums and repositories, re-analyses of these assemblages have the potential to provide valuable information and support the conservation ethic in archaeology. We highlight examples of zooarchaeological projects conducted on legacy shell midden collections in the region, focusing on our recent synthesis of Native American bird use along the Oregon coast. We present data on three legacy collections: Umpqua/Eden (35DO83), Whale Cove (35LNC60), and the Dunes Site (35CLT27), and compare these data with 23 previously analyzed assemblages. We evaluate potential bird procurement strategies, including nearshore and offshore hunting, hunting on breeding colonies, and collecting beached carcasses, using statistical tests and comparisons with contemporary surveys of naturally beached birds as observed by COASST (Coastal Observation Seabird Survey Team). While 71% of the identified bird remains belong to just three families (Anatidae, Alcidae, and Procellariidae), closer analysis reveals the incredible diversity of birds used by Oregon coast peoples. The assemblages vary considerably in terms of taxonomic diversity and composition, leading us to conclude that people used birds opportunistically, likely incorporating multiple strategies for procurement.

Cite this Record

New insights from old collections: Investigating bird bones from Pacific Northwest shell middens. Kristine Bovy, Madonna Moss, Jessica Watson, Julia Parrish. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451418)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23387