The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)


Kennewick Man: paleodiet, and the people of the Pacific Northwest Coast

HENRY P. SCHWARCZ1, THOMAS STAFFORD, JR.2, BRIAN S. CHISHOLM3, MEGHAN BURCHELL4, MARTIN KNYF5 and DOUGLAS W. OWSLEY6.

1School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton ON, Canada, 2Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark, 3Dept. of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 4Dept. of Archaeology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada, 5School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada, 6Dept. of Anthropology, US National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC

March 28, 2015 , Grand Ballroom E/F/G Add to calendar

Kennewick Man (KM), dated by 14C to 9,005 ± 70 y BP, is one of the most complete ancient human skeletons found in North America. Morphological studies suggest that he was not genetically related to other Native American populations but ongoing aDNA studies should clarify his genetic affinities.. Starting in 2004, a new collaborative study of his remains was undertaken, led by D. Owsley and R. Jantz. Using carbon and nitrogen isotopic analyses of collagen extracted from bone, we found that the protein component of KM’s diet for at least the last decade of his life was exclusively high-trophic-level marine animals, including salmon and marine mammals. He apparently did not consume the meat of terrestrial herbivores, although these were plentiful locally. In these respects his diet closely resembles a population of more than 100 indigenous people from British Columbia (Schwarcz et al., AJPA, 2014), who range in age back to 6000 BP, and other more recent indigenous remains from Alaska. He differs, however, from people of the BC interior who included land animals in their diet. We speculate on the significance of these dietary practices.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)