Virginia L. Butler

Date of Award

Spring 9-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Anthropology



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 110 pages)


Sampling (Statistics), Fish remains (Archaeology) -- Washington (State) -- Port Angeles -- Case studies, Excavations (Archaeology), Human settlements -- Washington (State) -- Port Angeles -- Case studies




Researchers on the Northwest Coast (NWC) are often interested in complex questions regarding social organization, resource intensification, resource control, and impacts of environmental change on resources and in turn human groups. However, the excavation strategies used on the NWC often do not provide the spatial and chronological control within a site that is necessary to document their variability and answer these research questions. The Čḯxwicən site has the potential to address some of the limitations of previous Northwest Coast village site excavations because of its unique and robust sampling strategy, the wide expanse of time that it was occupied, and the multiple house structures present. An on-going project is examining changing human ecodynamics over the breadth of site occupation, focusing on zooarchaeology and geoarchaeological records.

This site, located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Port Angeles, WA was excavated in 2004 as part of a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) undertaking to build parts for the Hood Canal Bridge Large scale excavation (261.4 m3 528 m2) generated enormous quantities of faunal remains. Radiocarbon dates and historic records show occupation extends from 2750 cal. BP to the early 20th century.

Statistical sampling methods provide an empirical way to maximize the amount of information obtained with the least amount of effort. My thesis addressed the utility of Sampling to Redundancy (STR) as a statistical sampling method for sampling faunal remains from large village sites. My project has documented the variability of fish family representation across time and space in one part of the Čḯxwicən village, while minimizing the time and effort required to do so. This thesis applies STR to "S" (> 1/4 in.) 10 Liter bucket samples from eight excavation units and a total of 26 separate unique temporal and spatial contexts. I focused on 1/4 in. samples for my study for a particular reason. Previous fish faunal studies have focused on effects of mesh size on fish representation; and emphasized the need to use fine mesh (e.g., 1/8 in. or finer) to document small-bodied fishes. This focus on fine mesh typically means that only limited volumes of matrix are studied, which in turn may mean that remains of rarer, large- bodied fishes are under- represented. The on-going research project has focused on buckets screened to 1/8 in. mesh (called "C" buckets). I used STR to sample additional volumes of matrix screened to 1/4 in. to examine whether expanding the volume studied would affect fish representation, which was a second goal of my project.

Overall, I studied remains from 269 "S" buckets out of a total of 419 buckets, or 47% of the buckets. STR was most helpful for six of the high bone abundance and density contexts, where I analyzed less than 50% of the total buckets, was moderately helpful for 14 contexts, and not at all helpful for the six contexts with low fishbone abundance, where I analyzed 100% of the buckets. This analysis took me a total of 154 hours, and based on the percentage of material analyzed, 174 hours were saved.

As to the second project goal, to assess whether adding fish remains documented from additional matrix volume affected fish representation, I found the differences were minimal. Both for my study units as a whole, and for each time period, adding the fish records from the "S" buckets did not alter the main trends in fish representation as documented by the larger study, using a smaller volume. To further examine whether the added volume from >1/4 in "S" buckets affected results, I explored specific research questions that are relevant to the larger project regarding environment-animal interactions and fishbone deposition and bone condition inside and outside of a house structure. Adding the "S" bucket samples did not affect fish representation or fishbone distribution and condition, which affirms that the sampling strategy used in the larger research project was sufficient in most cases to characterize the fish record at the site.

My approach to STR has focused on fish remains that were previously excavated from a Pacific coastal village site with dense archaeological deposits. STR could be employed in other types of archaeological settings in a range of environments (coast or interior) representing a range of cultural contexts (from hunting camps to urban centers) to establish sample redundancy after an excavation is complete. STR could be used during on-going excavation. Further research is required to explore the implications of STR in these settings, however it is likely that the success of STR in other contexts will be dependent on the density and overall abundance of remains, the diversity or material types being studied, as well of course in the range and specificity of questions in each case.

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