Shell Ring Invertebrates
Zooarchaeological Analysis of Invertebrate Fauna from St. Catherines Shell Ring (9Li231), Georgia
Project Zooarchaeologist: Nicole Cannarozzi, 2009-2010
St. Catherines Island is a barrier island located off the coast of Georgia (Liberty County), 50 miles south of Savannah. Excavations led by David Hurst Thomas of the American Museum of Natural History, revealed a Late Archaic-period shell ring (4370 ± 90 BP cal.) adding to the suite of full rings and crescents that dot the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. While vertebrates have been studied from pre-Hispanic and Hispanic sites, invertebrate remains have not been integrated into zooarchaeological analyses from any site on the island. This study served to complement previous analyses of vertebrate remains to provide a more complete representation of the late archaic-period subsistence.
Well-preserved zooarchaeological remains recovered from three column samples from units within the ring structure were identified and quantified to address questions regarding procurement methods, season of collection, site seasonality, site formation processes, and site function. Questions such as what invertebrate species are present at the ring site, what habitats were exploited, how and during what season(s) of the year animals were captured or collected were explored in this study. These are fundamental data needed to reconstruct the history of occupation and use of the ring site. The fauna were analyzed using standard zooarchaeological methods described in Reitz and Wing (2007).
In a previous study, Cannarozzi used stable isotope geochemistry to determine whether oysters on St. Catherines Island accurately record ambient environmental conditions. Her studies of archaeological oyster oxygen isotope ratios show harvests in spring and late summer.