M.A. Theses: Nicole Diane Boucher, 1976

Prehistoric Subsistence at the Helen Point Site.

This thesis is concerned with the identification and interpretation of the faunal remains from the 5,000 year long sequence at the Helen Point site (DfRu 8) on Mayne Island, British Columbia, excavated in 1968.

A total sample of 22,652 animal bones were recovered from the excavations; 35 were unclassifiable, 14,021 were identified to class (land mammal, sea mammal, fish and bird), and 8,596 were identified to either family or species. Percentages for each class for each cultural phase were calculated from the total bone count in order to determine changes in the faunal composition through time. It was found that there was a substantial decrease in land mammal bones through time with an increase in fish bones. Sea mammal bones and bird bones also showed a decrease through time. Several explanations for these phenomena are considered: (1) a decline in the occurrence of mammals through time as a result of either environmental changes or disturbance by man; (2) an increase in the presence of fish as a result of shift in subsistence activities; (3) a change in hunting techniques; and (4) food preferences.

Faunal works on other coastal archaeological sites are also examined in order to determine patterns of inter-site variability in animal utilization, and for comparison with the Helen Point material. Two patterns of exploitation of fauna emerged: (1) a deep-sea oriented subsistence type; and (2) a riverine and littoral oriented subsistence type. In some sites, deep-sea exploitation seems to have been constant for the last 2,000 years, whereas at other sites, there has been a shift through time from land mammal exploitation towards the riverine-littoral pattern utilizing various combinations of sea mammal, fish or shellfish resources of which the dominant class varies at different sites. The Mayne Island material clearly falls within the latter pattern.