The Archaeology of Herring – herring in Norton Sound?

On Feb. 12, 2013, Richard Stern and I had an interesting exchange about herring.  This got posted to my other topic (Deep History of Pacific Flyway), so I am re-posting it to Archaeology of Herring where it belongs.  Thank you Richard!

From MM (2/12/13)

You have raised excellent questions, Richard. Thanks for your thoughts and great advice. I very much doubt much screening was done, because so much attention has been focused on defining houses and other structures in the arctic. As it turns out, the Nash Harbor herring bones are not herring after all!!! I examined them last Friday and found they are a small gadid (tomcod, small walleye pollock perhaps). I am going to photograph them with a microscope and post the photo. Establishing the northernmost range of herring is going to be an interesting outcome (hopefully!).

From Richard Stern, (2/12/13)

Hello Madonna, Congratulations on getting funding for this.
Reading some of the herring posts and the other herring work
you (and others) have done makes me wonder about herring in Norton Sound and beyond. Thinking about the distribution of these northernmost herring fisheries, I wonder about Museum and other collections from Denbigh, Difchahak, and other coastal sites. Without going back to some of the original reports, I’m not sure whether or not the deposits were screened for smallish fish bones. There might be bulk samples still in the accessioned collections. Would be interesting to chat about this next month in Anchorage, and of course we can correspond via email too. The ADF&G area fisheries biologists might have some ideas too, but you’ve probably been in contact with them. Cheers, Richard

2 comments on “The Archaeology of Herring – herring in Norton Sound?
  1. No screening at Iyatayet during Giddings’ excavations, but we screened 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch during Andy Tremayne’s (2013) project. I’m not aware of any fish remains found at Difchahak (but I doubt Giddings screened, and Harritt (2010) doesn’t mention screening the four shovel tests he did). I’m working in Norton Sound – I’ll keep an eye out!

    • Thank you so very much for commenting, Kelly. Keep up the use of those 1/8 inch screens! That’s the bare minimum we need to recover herring bones, and you also have little cottids up there. I know it’s expensive to ship bulk samples from these remote areas, but they are very worth taking if you have fish bones. I am glad to hear you are working in the far north! Best wishes to CD too!

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