Date of Award:

6-26-2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

David Byers

Abstract

My thesis seeks to answer the broad questions: can early foragers alter marine resources in island settings and can archaeological data provide insights into these changes. These questions highlight two important issues. The first issue reflects the common belief that small-scale societies did not affect their environments. The second issue centers on growing concern over the collapse of fisheries across the globe.

To answer these questions, I use fish bones recovered from an archaeological site located in Belmont, Jamaica near the Bluefields Bay marine sanctuary. The Bluefields Bay site dates to the late Taíno occupation of Jamaica. The name Taíno refers to the peoples who greeted Columbus. I conduct my analyses through the identification of the faunal bones to lowest taxonomic level, and apply the theoretical tool known as resource depression to detect declines in the relative abundance of large-bodied fishes, reductions in fish body size, and changes to fish community composition. I found significant changes in body size and diversity of fishes through time, pointing to shifts in the marine ecosystem due to human exploitation that occurred nearly a thousand years ago.

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Anthropology Commons

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