Rice Ridge Birds

The Rice Ridge Team includes Brittany Falconer, Amy Shannon, and Erick Wonderly who have been working with these bird bones since taking ANTH 471 Zooarchaeology in winter term, 2019. These fine undergrads are shown here with bird bones from two units excavated in 1989 from Rice Ridge (49-KOD-363), a deeply stratified archaeological deposit on Kodiak Island. It has a well-preserved faunal assemblage associated with the Ocean Bay tradition (7600-4200 cal BP).  Dr. Molly Casperson (2012) studied the Ocean Bay tradition birds from the nearby Mink Island (49-XMK-030) site. Casperson found that birds played an important role in the lifeways of Ocean Bay groups, although these people have been conventionally portrayed as primarily dependent on marine mammals and fish. With this contemporary assemblage from Rice Ridge, we can investigate whether birds were also important on Kodiak Island. We suspect that they provided food, but also that their skins were used to make clothing. Dr. Robert Kopperl (2003, 2012) pieced together the site chronology and has analyzed the fish and marine mammal bones from the site.  We are looking forward to synthesizing our results with his (eventually).  In the meantime, we extend thanks to Amanda Taylor, Stephanie Jolivette, and Rob Faucett who are making additional comparative specimens available for our study.  Staff at the Burke Museum (Laura Phillips) and the Alutiiq Museum (Amy Steffian, Patrick Saltonstall, Molly Odell) have all helped us get the project started. Philippa Jorissen and others have also helped analyze these bones.  We will keep you posted as we learn more.


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