Sampling Fish Bones: A Consideration of the Importance of Screen Size and Disposal Context in the North Pacific

Megan A. Partlow


Archaeologists have long debated the importance of salmon resources in the development of large, semisedentary winter villages and ranked societies among native peoples of the eastern North Pacific. For the most part, this debate has occurred without adequately sampled fish assemblages. Two key types of faunal data useful in testing for salmon intensification in the archaeological record are taxonomic proportions data and skeletal parts data. Both types of data require systematic collection and are affected by screen size. In addition, disposal context (e.g., house floor versus exterior midden) can seriously affect taxonomic proportions data. At Settlement Point, a Koniag tradition site from Afognak Island, Alaska, salmon bone recovery was found to vary significantly by screen-size and disposal context. Systematic screening and house floor sampling (when possible) are recommended in generating fish bone assemblages adequate to evaluate models of the importance of salmon in prehistoric subsistence systems of the northeastern Pacific.

  • Megan A. Partlow, Department of Anthropology, Central Washington University, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, Washington 98926-7544

This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.

Purchase access

You may purchase access to this article. This will require you to create an account if you don't already have one.