AGSA: Ale Diaz, “Resource relationships along the Fraser: A stable isotope analysis of prehistoric dogs and other fauna”

Resource relationships in the Fraser River watershed: A stable isotope analysis of prehistoric human foodways, mobility, and human-ecological interactions

Interactions between resources and ecologies in British Columbia have been sustained over millennia through the active management of terrestrial, marine, and riverine resources as well as through relationships existing between human and non-human environmental counterparts. Through carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur isotopic analysis of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and other fauna, this project investigates prehistoric foodways and resource relationships in British Columbia, looking specifically at archaeological sites situated along the Fraser River. I discuss results in relation to dietary variability and resource mobility through time and in the relationships between dogs and humans as well as dogs and other animals. While dogs are not a direct proxy for humans in dietary isotope studies, their diets are influenced by human dietary practices, and therefore indicative of human subsistence strategies and activities. Similarly, evidence of dog mobility reflects the spatial interactions between human groups and resources. Dietary results show that while salmon played an important part of dog diet, all sites had individuals deviating markedly from an aquatic-riverine diet, instead having a more terrestrial based diet. This is paralleled in sulphur isotope values, with terrestrial based dietary signatures having very negative δ34S values, which I argue is spatially and dietarily based versus marine vs. riverine resource based. I offer this as evidence of culturally-mediated diet and movement of dogs by humans and of the complex relationship with humans and the domesticated dog.

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