The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Isotope studies of prehistoric diets on the Northwest Coast of Canada


Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Saturday Afternoon, Council Suite Add to calendar

This poster will bring together recent and published dietary isotope data for prehistoric humans and dogs from the Northwest Coast of Canada. This area was one of the first areas in the world where isotope analysis was applied, and recently, in collaboration with First Nations communities, new analysis has been undertaken to help determine past indigenous diets and resource use in this region. Early studies focused mainly on carbon isotopes in bone collagen and showed the overwhelming importance of marine foods in diets for people along the coast. More recent research on dogs has included measurements of collagen nitrogen isotopes that can help to identify the specific types of marine foods consumed. Those studies showed that the main dietary protein sources for the dogs were likely lower trophic level marine foods, and not salmon, which was often argued as the primary marine food consumed in coastal prehistoric British Columbia. In this poster we present new human and dog carbon and nitrogen isotope data which, although the dataset is limited at this stage of the project, does show that salmon was the most likely main source of protein for humans along the Northwest Coast.

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