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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Changes in Marine Subsistence on San Miguel Island from 8,500 to 2,400 Years Ago: Analysis of Bulk Samples from Cave of the Chimneys (CA-SMI-603)


We present a detailed faunal analysis of bulk samples excavated from Cave of the Chimneys, located on the northeast coast of San Miguel Island. The site contains at least six discrete cultural components in a well-strati ed and well- preserved sequence spanning roughly 6,000 years, from about 8,500 to 2,400 years ago. Although species composition and shell sh richness changed over time, rocky intertidal shell sh dominate the faunal assemblage. The Early Holocene strata predominantly consist of California mussels (Mytilus californianus) with other species present in low numbers. The contribution of other shell sh taxa in the Middle Holocene strata greatly increases so that no single species dominates the assemblage. Fish remains are present throughout, but vary in abundance and dietary importance. We discuss these trans-Holocene patterns in the context of other San Miguel Island sites and general patterns of maritime subsistence developed for the Santa Barbara Channel region.

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