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Sclerochronological Measures of Seasonality at a Late Woodland Mound on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

  • John H. Blitz (a1), C. Fred T. Andrus (a2) and Lauren E. Downs (a3)

Abstract

Seasonality of site occupation has been an important issue in the archaeology of precolumbian coastal populations in the U.S. Southeast. Sclerochronological oxygen isotope measurements to estimate season of capture were performed on marsh clam (Rangia cuneata) and oyster (Crassostrea virginica) shells from a Late Woodland platform mound in coastal Mississippi. This study is the first oxygen isotope analysis of archaeological Rangia cuneata. The results of the study, supported by vertebrate faunal and plant seasonal indicators and depositional circumstances, indicate that mound trash deposits were generated by short-term activities during the spring and summer months. Factors that could reduce the precision of the seasonal estimates are identified.

Resumen

Las conchas de moluscos marinos recuperadas en sitios arqueológicos son utilizadas para estimar la temporada de captura con regularidad creciente. La precisión de estas estimaciones típicamente se limita a diferenciar entre períodos húmedos y secos o períodos cálidos y fríos. Sin embargo, también es posible utilizar estos registros para identificar eventos de más corta duración. Se realizaron mediciones de isótopos de oxígeno en conchas de almeja de pantano (Rangia cuneata) y de ostra americana (Crassostrea virginica). Las conchas se encontraron en depósitos de basura sellados en un montículo de 1.200 años de antigüedad (Late Woodland) en la costa de Mississippi, EE.UU. Las mediciones de isótopos de oxígeno indican la temperatura del agua en el momento en que se recogieron los moluscos, lo cual es la base para construir una cronología estacional de la concha (esclerocronología). Se identificaron varios factores que pueden reducir la precisión de las estimaciones estacionales. Los resultados de la cronología estacional de la concha, con apoyo de datos adicionales estratigráficos y de fauna, indican que los depósitos de basura de los montículos fueron generados por eventos a corto plazo, que tal vez duraron menos de un día, durante los meses de primavera y verano.

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References

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Sclerochronological Measures of Seasonality at a Late Woodland Mound on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

  • John H. Blitz (a1), C. Fred T. Andrus (a2) and Lauren E. Downs (a3)

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