Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The Late Woodland Diet on Nantucket Island and the Problem of Maize in Coastal New England

  • Elizabeth A. Little (a1) and Margaret J. Schoeninger (a2)

Abstract

Carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of (1) bone collagen from six burials of the Late Woodland Period at Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, and (2) a wide range of potential dietary materials provide data for evaluating coastal diets. Archaeological and historical data give evidence for the availability and use of dietary items. The bases of the food chains and trophic levels define the possible food groups: terrestrial C3 and C4 plants and their consumers, marine C3 and C4-like plants and their consumers, and marine carnivores. From these data, computer analysis of multiple linear mixing equations relating isotope ratios of human bone collagen to those of dietary food groups shows allowable ranges of these food groups in the diet. The results argue for a diet of 40–65 percent oceanic animals, with the rest consisting of substantial amounts of animals from salt marsh and eelgrass meadows or of maize, and minor amounts of C3 plants and their consumers.

Resumen

Las proporciones de isotopos de carbono y nitrógeno tornados de (1) colágeno de hueso, sacados de seis entierros del periódo Woodland Tardio en la Isla Nantucket, Massachusetts; y (2) una gran variedad de materiales alimenticios posibles, proveen datos para valorar las dietas costeñas. Los datos historicos y arqueologicos establecen evidencia sobre la utilizatión y disponibilidad de los consumibles. Las bases de la sucesión de comestibles y los niveles tróficos determinan los grupos alimenticios posibles: plantas terrestres C3 y C4 y sus consumidores; plantas marinas parecidas a las plantas C3 y C4 y sus consumidores, y carnίvoros marinos. Un análisis por computadora de ecuaciones mezcladores multi-lineares que relaciona razones isotópicos de colágeno de hueso humano a las de los grupos alimenticios, demuestra limites permisibles de estos grupos alimenticios en el régimen. Los resultados indican una dieta de 40-65 por ciento de animales oceánicos y lo demás es compuesto de cantidades sustanciosas de animales del saladar y de las praderas de Zostera marina, o de maίz, y cantidades pequeñas de plantas C3 y sus consumidores.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Ambrose, S., and Norr, L. 1993 Experimental Evidence for the Relationship of the Carbon Isotope Ratios of Whole Diet and Dietary Protein to Those of Bone Collagen and Carbonate. In Molecular Archaeology of Prehistoric Human Bone, edited by Lambert, J. and Grupe, G.. Springer, Berlin.
Bendremer, J. C, Kellogg, E. A. and Largy, T. B. 1991 A Grass-Lined Maize Storage Pit and Early Maize Horticulture in Central Connecticut. North American Archaeologist 12 : 325349
Bernstein, D. J. 1992 Prehistoric Use of Plant Foods in the Narragansett Bay Region. Man in the Northeast 44 : 113.
Bigelow, H. B., and Schroeder, W. C. 1953 Fishes of the Gulf of Maine. 1st rev. Fishery Bulletin of the Fish and Wildlife Service Vol. 53, No. 74. U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington D. C.
Borstel, C. 1984 Prehistoric Site Chronology : A Preliminary Report. In Chapters in the Archaeology of Cape Cod, I, vol. 1, edited by McManamon, F. P., pp. 231288. Cultural Resources Management Study No. 8, National Park Service, Boston.
Bourque, B. J., and Kreuger, H. W. 1994 Dietary Reconstruction from Human Bone Isotopes for Five Coastal New England Populations. In Paleonutrition : The Diet and Health of Prehistoric Americans, edited by Sobolik, K. D., pp. 195209. Occasional Paper No. 22, Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Brereton, J. 1602 A Brief and True Relation…. George Bishop, London.
Capone, D. G., and Carpenter, E. J. 1982 Nitrogen Fixation in the Marine Environment. Science 217 : 11401142.
Ceci, L. 1975 Fish Fertilizer : A Native North American Practice? Science 118 : 2630.
Ceci, L. 1990 Radiocarbon Dating “Village” Sites in Coastal New York : Settlement Pattern Change in the Middle to Late Woodland. Man in the Northeast 39 : 128.
Champlain, S. de 1880-1882 Voyages, vol. 2. Prince Society, Boston.
Chisholm, B. S., Nelson, D. E., and Schwarcz, H. P. 1982 Stable Carbon Isotope Ratios as a Measure of Marine Versus Terrestrial Protein in Ancient Diets. Science 216 : 11311132.
Crevecoeur, H. 1971 [1782] Letters from An American Farmer . Everyman's Library, New York.
Demeritt, D. 1991 Agriculture, Climate, and Cultural Adaptation in the Prehistoric Northeast. Archaeology of Eastern North America 19 : 183202.
DeNiro, M. J., and Epstein, S. 1978 Influence of Diet on the Distribution of Carbon Isotopes in Animals. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 42 : 495506.
DeNiro, M. J., and Epstein, S. 1981 Influence of Diet on the Distribution of Bitrogen Isotopes in Animals. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 45 : 34151.
DeNiro, M. J., and Hastorf, C. A. 1985 Alteration of 15N/14N and l3C/, 2C Ratios of Plant Matter during the Initial Stages of Diagenesis : Studies Utilizing Archaeological Specimens from Peru. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 49 : 97115.
DeNiro, M. J., and Schoeninger, M. J. 1983 Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope ratios of Bone Collagen : Variation within Individuals, between Sexes, and within Populations Raised on Monotonous Diets. Journal of Archaeological Science 10 : 199203.
Draper, H. H. 1977 The Aboriginal Eskimo Diet in Modern Perspective. American Anthropologist 79 : 309316.
Dunwiddie, P. W. 1990 Postglacial History of Coastal Islands in Southeastern New England. National Geographic Research 6(2) : 178195.
Eaton, S. B., and Konner, M. 1985 Paleolithic Nutrition : A Consideration of Its Nature and Current Implications. The New England Journal of Medicine 312 : 283289.
Felger, R., and Moser, M. B. 1973 Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) in the Gulf of California : Discovery of Its Nutritional Value by the Serf Indians. Science 181 : 355356.
Fernald, M. L. 1970 Gray's Manual of Botany. 8th ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.
Fitzgerald, J. 1984 Floral and Faunal Archaeological Remains. In Chapters in the Archeology of Cape Cod, I, vol. 2, edited by McManamon, F. P., pp. 4381. Cultural Resources Management Study No. 8. National Park Service, Boston.
Freeman, Rev. J. 1846 [1815] Notes on Nantucket, August 1 st, 1807. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., 3 : 1938.
Fry, B., and Sherr, E. B. 1984 513C Measurements as Indicators of Carbon Flow in Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. Contributions in Marine Science 27 : 1347.
Gookin, D. 1970 [1674] Historical Collections of the Indians in New England, edited by Fiske, J. H.. Towtaid, Worcester. Hayden, B., Chisholm, B., and Schwarcz, H. P.
Gookin, D. 1987 Fishing and Foraging : Marine Resources in the Upper Paleolithic of France. In The Pleistocene Old World : Regional Perspectives, edited by Soffer, O., pp. 279291. Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology, Jochim, M., editor. Plenum Press, New York City.
Keegan, W. F., and DeNiro, M. J. 1988 Stable Carbon-and Nitrogen-Isotope Ratios of /\/J Bone Collagen Used to Study Coral Reef and Terr-“’ restrial Components of Prehistoric Bahamian Diet. American Antiquity 53 : 320336.
Langlois, K. H., Jr. 1977 Soil Survey of Nantucket County, Massachusetts. USDA Soil Conservation Service in cooperation with Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station. U. S. Government Printing Office, Washinton, D. C.
Lavin, L. 1988 Coastal Adaptations in Southern New England V and Southern New York. Archaeology of Eastern North America 16 : 101120.
Little, E. A. 1985a Prevailing Winds and Site Aspects : Testable Hypotheses about the Seasonality of Prehistoric Shell Middens at Nantucket, Massachusetts. Man in the Northeast 29 : 1527.
Little, E. A. 1985b Prehistoric Diet at Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Nantucket Archaeological Study No. 6. Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Little, E. A. 1988 Where Are the Woodland Villages on Cape Cod and the Islands? Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 49 : 7282.
Little, E. A. 1993 Radiocarbon Age Calibration at Archaeological Sites of Coastal Massachusetts and Vicinity. Journal of Archaeological Science 20 : 457471.
Little, E. A., and Andrews, J. C. 1982 Drift Whales at Nantucket : The Kindness of Moshup. Man in the Northeast 23 : 1738.
Luedtke, B. E. 1980a Survey of the University of Massachusetts, Nantucket Field Station. In Widening Horizons, edited by Hoffman, C., pp. 95129. Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Middleboro.
Luedtke, B. E. 1980b The Calf Island Site and the Late Prehistoric Period in Boston Harbor. Man in the Northeast 20 : 2576.
Luedtke, B. E. 1987 Jasper and the Pennsylvania Connection : Jasper at Massachusetts Sites. Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 48 : 3747.
McBride, K. A., and Dewar, R. E. 1987 Agriculture and Cultural Evolution : Causes and Effects in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. In Emergent Horticultural Economies of the Eastern Woodlands, edited by Keegan, W. F., pp. 305328. Occasional Paper No. 7. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
McManamon, F. P., Bradley, J. W., and Magennis, A. L. 1986 The Indian Neck Ossuary. In Chapters in the Archeology of Cape Cod, V, edited by McManamon, F. P.. Cultural Resources Management Study No. 17. National Park Service, Boston.
Macy, Z. 1810 [1794] A Short Journal of the First Settling of the Island of Nantucket (1792). Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society 3 : 155160.
Medaglia, C. C, Little, E. A., and Schoeninger, M. J. 1990 Late Woodland Diet on Nantucket Island : Av) Study Using Stable Isotope Ratios. Bulletin of the —’ Massachusetts Archaeological Society 51 : 4960.
Mourt, G. 1986 [1622] Mourt's Relation, edited by Heath, D. B.. Applewood Books, Cambridge.
Nelson, C. M. 1989 Radiocarbon Age of the Dog Burial from Squantum, Massachusetts. Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 50 : 29.
Noli, D., and Avery, G. 1988 Protein Poisoning and Coastal Subsistence. Journal of Archaeological Science 15 : 395401.
Oldale, R. N. 1986 Late-Glacial and Postglacial Sea-Level History of New England : A Review of Available Sea Level Curves. Archaeology of Eastern North America 14 : 89100.
O' Leary, M. H. 1988 Carbon Isotopes in Photosynthesis. Bio Science 38 : 228335.
Perlman, S. M. 1980 An Optimum Diet Model, Coastal Variability, and Hunter-Gatherer Behavior. In Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 3 : 257310.
Peterson, B. J., Howarth, R. W., and Garritt, R. H. 1985 Multiple Stable Isotopes Used to Trace the Flow of Organic Matter in Estuarine Food Webs. Science 227 : 13611363.
Pretola, J., and Little, E. A. 1988 An Archaeological Record from the Far Island. Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut 51 : 4768.
Rau, C. 1885 Prehistoric Fishing in Europe and North America. Smithsonian Contribution to Knowledge No. 25. Smithsonian Institution, Washington D. C.
Ritchie, W. A. 1969 The Archaeology of Martha's Vineyard. Natural History Press, Garden City, New York.
Schoeninger, M. J., and DeNiro, M. J. 1984 Nitrogen and Carbon Isotopic Composition of //Bone Collagen from Marine and Terrestrial Animals. Geochimica and Cosmochimica Acta 48 : 625-639.
Schoeninger, M. J., DeNiro, M. J., and Tauber, H. 1983 Stable Nitrogen Isotope Ratios of Bone Col-/ Ja Mn Reflect Marine and Terrestrial Components of Prehistoric Human Diet. Science 220 : 13811383.
Schoeninger, M. J., and Moore, K. 1992 Bone Stable Isotope Studies in Archaeology. Journal of World Prehistory 6 : 247296.
Schoeninger, M. J., and van der Merwe, N. J., Moore, K., Lee-Thorpe, J., Larsen, C. S. 1990 Decrease in Diet Quality between the Prehistoric and Contact Periods. In The Archaeology of Mission Santa Catalina DeQuale : 2. Biocultural Interpretations of a Population in Transition, edited by Larsen, C. S., pp. 7894. Anthropological Paper No. 68. American Museum of Natural History, New York.
Sphwarcz, H. P., Melbye, J., Katzenberg, M. A., and Knyf, M. 1985 Stable Isotopes in Human Skeletons of Southern Ontario : Reconstructing Palaeodiet. Journal of Ar\ chaeological Science 12 : 187206.
Speth, J. D., and Spielmann, K. A. 1983 Energy Source, Protein Metabolism, and Hunter/ Gatherer Subsistence Strategies. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2 : 131.
Spielmann, K. A., Schoeninger, M. J., and Moore, K. 1990 Plains-Pueblo Interdependence and Human Diet at Pecos Pueblo, New Mexico. American Antiquity 55 : 745765.
Starbuck, A. 1924 The History of Nantucket. C. E. Goodspeed, Boston.
Stuiver, M., and Reimer, P. J. 1993 Extended L4C Data Base and Revised CALIB 3. 0 l4C Age Calibration Program [Rev. 3. 03]. Radiocarbon 35 : 215230.
Szathmary, E. J. E., Ritenbaugh, C., and Goodby, C-S. M. 1987 Dietary Change and Plasma Glucose Levels in an Amerindian Population Undergoing Cultural Transition. Social Science and Medicine 24 : 791804.
Tieszen, L. L., and Fagre, T. 1993 Carbon Isotope Variability in Modern and Archaeological Maize. Journal of Archaeological Science 20 : 2540.
Tuross, N., Fogel, M. L., Newsom, L., and Doran, G. H. 1994 Subsistence in the Florida Archaic : The Stable-Isotope and Archaeobotanical Evidence from the Windover Site. American Antiquity 59 : 288303.
U. S. Department of Agriculture 1978 Handbook of Agriculture Charts. Agriculture Handbook No. 551. Government Printing Office Washington, D. C.
van der Merwe, N. J., and Vogel, J. C. 1978 13C Content of Human Collagen as a Measure of Prehistoric Diet in Woodland North America. Nature 276 : 815816.
Walker, P. L., and DeNiro, M. J. 1986 Stable Nitrogen and Carbon Isotope Ratios in Bone Collagen as Indices of Prehistoric Dietary Dependence on Marine and Terrestrial Resources in Southern California. American Journal of Physical A nthropology 71 : 5161.
Watt, B. K., and Merrill, A. L. 1975 [1963] Handbook of the Nutritional Contents of Foods . Handbook No. 8, U. S. Department of Agriculture. Dover, New York.
Williams, R. 1936 [1643] A Key into the Language of America. 5th ed. Reprinted for the Tercentenary Committee, Providence, Rhode Island.
Winkler, M. J. 1985 A 12, 000-Year History of Vegetation and Climate for Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Quaternary Research 23 : 301312.
Winslow, E. 1841 [1624] Good News from New England… . In Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of Plymouth, from 1602-1625, edited by Young, A., pp. 354367. Little and Brown, Boston.
Wood, W. 1865 [1635] New England's Prospect, edited by Deane, C.. Prince Society, Boston.
Yesner, D. R. 1988 Subsistence and Diet in North-Temperate Coastal Hunter-Gatherers : Evidence from the Moshier Island Burial Site, Southwestern Maine. In Diet and Subsistence : Current Archaeological Perspectives, edited by Kennedy, B. and LeMoine, G., pp. 207226. Proceedings of the 19th Annual Conference of the Archaeological Association of the University of Calgary, Alberta.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed