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Title: Pre-contact ecology, subsistence and diet on the Yukon-Kushokwim Delta : an integrated ecosystem approach to pre-contact Arctic lifeways using zooarchaeological analysis and stable isotope techniques
Author: McManus-Fry, Ellen Teresa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 4947
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores the ecology of a pre-contact Western Alaskan faunal assemblage, through a combination of zooarchaeological and stable isotope techniques. The permafrost-preserved assemblage was excavated in 2009/10 at Nunalleq (c. AD 1350-1700) on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta by the University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with Qanirtuuq Inc. and the Native village of Quinhagak. Zooarchaeological analysis was conducted to identify the species present at Nunalleq. Analysis of butchery marks suggested patterns of human utilization of faunal resources and data on the age profile of the assemblage provided information on the seasonality of hunting and site occupation. A wide range of marine, freshwater and terrestrial species was observed, with pinnipeds, dogs and caribou particularly frequent. Subsequently, stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ15N and δ34S) was carried out on 20 species identified at Nunalleq. The application of carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis enabled investigation of the diets and habitats of the various species and their relative positions in the food-web. These data were compared with data from contemporaneous Alaskan sites and modern studies, allowing investigation of diachronic and geographical variability. The dogs, as the only domestic species found in the prehistoric North American Arctic with a unique role between the domestic and the wild, were the focus of an in-depth zooarchaeological and isotopic case study. The comparison of stable isotope data from humans and dogs revealed a similarity in diet and, together with osteological evidence for butchery, indicated the complex role of dogs in human subsistence strategies. Sulphur isotope analysis provided a complementary tool with which to explore isotope variability, and facilitated a consideration of its potential benefits in enhancing the more commonly-used combination of carbon and nitrogen analysis in the interpretation of faunal isotope ecology. The advantages of integrating zooarchaeological and stable isotope data are discussed and future research directions are explored.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Paleoecology ; Animal remains (Archaeology) ; Carbon ; Nitrogen