On the antiquity of the single-piece shell fishhook: AMS radiocarbon evidence from the southern California coast

Torben C. Rick, René L. Vellanoweth, Jon M. Erlandson, Douglas J. Kennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the Late Holocene, a number of new technologies (single-piece fishhooks, toggling harpoons, plank canoes, etc.) are thought to have significantly enhanced the fishing capabilities of California coastal peoples. The single-piece fishhook, perhaps the most common of these artifacts, appears to correlate with a regional intensification of marine fishing and a period of increased population growth. Determining the antiquity of the single-piece fishhook has been complicated by a variety of taphonomic and methodological factors. Consequently, age estimates for the initial appearance of these artifacts range from about 5500 to 2500 cal-BP. To help clarify the chronology of this important artifact type, we had eight of the potentially oldest shell fishhooks in the region AMS radiocarbon dated. These dates indicate that the single-piece shell fishhook appeared throughout the southern and central California Coast by at least 2500 cal-BP. Our data illustrate the utility of direct AMS dating of individual artifacts as a method of documenting site disturbances (bioturbation, historical land use, etc.) and refining artifact, site, and regional chronologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-942
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume29
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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