Late Dorset Caribou Hunters: Zooarchaeology of the Bell Site, Victoria Island

Lesley Howse

Abstract

This paper presents a detailed study of animal bones from a Late Dorset house structure and midden at the Bell site, Victoria Island. Previous research has shown seal to be the staple resource of Late Dorset subsistence in most other regions. Bones of terrestrial mammals such as caribou are rarely found in Late Dorset sites, leading researchers to suggest that Late Dorset people may not have been actively hunting caribou or that caribou population numbers were low during the Late Dorset period across much of the eastern Arctic. In contrast to other sites, faunal remains from the Bell site indicate that Late Dorset people living there were primarily dependent on caribou and Arctic char, and relied only minimally on seal. Thus, the Bell site presents a rare opportunity to understand terrestrial aspects of the Late Dorset economy.

  • Lesley Howse, 19 Russell St, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2S2, Canada

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