Explaining shellfish variability in middens on the Meriam Islands, Torres Strait, Australia
Bird, Douglas W., Richardson, Jennifer L., Veth, Peter M., and Barham, Anthony J. (2002) Explaining shellfish variability in middens on the Meriam Islands, Torres Strait, Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 29 (5). pp. 457-469.
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View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jasc.2001.0734
Archaeologists have traditionally assumed that proportional variability in the types of shellfish remains found in middens can directly inform arguments about prehistoric coastal and island diets. We explore this assumption by comparing an analysis of three shellmidden sites on the Meriam Islands (eastern Torres Strait, Australia) with data on contemporary Meriam shellfishing strategies. We present tests of hypotheses drawn from behavioral ecology about factors that influence prey choice and differential field processing and transport, and compare these results to variability displayed in the shell assemblages. We find that while prey choice is predictable ethnographically, it is not reflected in the midden remains. Variability in the middens only begins to make sense with reference to the tradeoffs that foragers face in attempts to maximize the rate at which they can deliver resources to a central locale. This result should be of interest to all researchers concerned with reconstructing and explaining variability in prehistoric subsistence practices, especially in coastal or island settings.
|Item Type:||Article (Refereed Research - C1)|
No current JCU email address available.
|Keywords:||behavioural ecology; differential transport; Meriam; Shell middens; shellfish gathering; Torres Strait|
|FoR Codes:||21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210199 Archaeology not elsewhere classified @ 51%|
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society @ 49%
|SEO Codes:||97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 100%|
|Deposited On:||23 Dec 2010 11:25|
|Last Modified:||12 Feb 2011 20:20|
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