Windward vs. leeward: inter-site variation in marine resource exploitation on Ebon Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands

Harris, Matthew, Lambrides, Ariana B. J., and Weisler, Marshall I. (2016) Windward vs. leeward: inter-site variation in marine resource exploitation on Ebon Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 6. pp. 221-229.

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The variation in windward and leeward marine environments has been linked to distinctions in marine subsistence on large, high volcanic Pacific Islands, but these patterns have not been explored on low coral atolls. We document windward vs. leeward islet site variation in the taxonomic composition of fish bone and mollusc shell assemblages from three archaeological sites at Ebon Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, to elucidate the relationship between local environment, archaeological site type and the taxonomic composition of marine archaeofaunal assemblages. While the representation of taxa at each site was broadly similar in terms of measures of taxonomic heterogeneity (richness, evenness and dominance), chord distance and correspondence analysis reported variation in taxonomic composition at each site. For mollusc shell assemblages, variation in taxonomic abundance indicates the influence of the marine environments adjacent to each site and the relative exposure of these coastlines to heavy surf, wind, waves and extreme weather events. Fish bone assemblages recovered from 6.4 mm screens had less inter-site variation in richness, evenness and rank order, but differences were noted in the rank order of fish taxa recovered from selective 3.2 mm screening of archaeological deposits when compared between sites. In contrast to patterns for molluscs, variation in the taxonomic composition of fish bone assemblages likely relates to site function, rather than the marine environments adjacent to each site. These trends highlight for the first time the complex range of factors that influenced the prehistoric acquisition of marine resources between leeward and windward islets, and document variation in prehistoric marine subsistence within one atoll.

Item ID: 59055
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2352-409X
Keywords: atoll archaeology, marine subsistence, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Pacific fishing, shell midden studies, zooarchaeology, archaeomalacology, ichthyoarchaeology
Copyright Information: © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. In compliance with the publisher's policies, the Accepted Manuscript version of this paper is available Open Access from ResearchOnline@JCU under a Creative Commons non-commercial no derivatives international license.
Funders: University of Queensland (UQ), Commonwealth of Australia
Projects and Grants: Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2019 02:07
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 50%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4513 Pacific Peoples culture, language and history > 451301 Archaeology of New Guinea and Pacific Islands (excl. New Zealand) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950599 Understanding Past Societies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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