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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Prehistoric Shellfish Exploitation Around the Goleta Lagoon, California


The reconstruction and interpretation of prehistoric subsistence has been a focus of Santa Barbara-area archaeology for many years, and the analysis of faunal remains is an integral part of this research. Shellfish remains are an abundant and visible constituent of local sites. The role of shellfish in subsistence, and their relative contribution to the prehistoric diet, have been topics of recent literature (Erlandson 1988a; Glassow and Wilcoxon 1988). To understand the role of shellfish in the prehistoric diet, it is necessary to document the nature of shellfish remains in archaeological sites.

In recent years a large body of quantified data on shellfish from several sites in the vicinity of the Goleta Lagoon has been recovered, and it is now possible to consider the nature and causes of changes through time in shellfish remains in a broad context. This paper is a description of shellfish assemblages from 14 site components from 11 sites, and a discussion of explanations for changes through time in shellfish exploitation.

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