Do fish otoliths provide a reliable palaeoenvironmental record? An examination of the effects of cooking on morphology and chemistry.

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  • Do fish otoliths provide a reliable palaeoenvironmental record? An examination of the effects of cooking on morphology and chemistry.

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Title

Do fish otoliths provide a reliable palaeoenvironmental record? An examination of the effects of cooking on morphology and chemistry.

Description

Note: This presentation won 1st Place in the 2014 Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize competition.

Abstract: Chemical and isotopic analyses of archaeological fish otoliths are increasingly being employed as palaeoenvironmental proxies. While numerous studies have examined the effect that processing methods, cooking and burning have on fish bone in general, it is currently not known whether pre-­‐ depositional processes such as cooking methods, or burning in campfires, alter the trace elemental and/or isotopic signatures of otoliths. Without prior knowledge concerning how fish processing methods and post-­‐depositional influences alter the chemical nature of archaeological specimens, false assumptions regarding palaeoenvironmental changes can be made. We used an experimental approach to examine the effects that numerous traditional processing and cooking methods had on the morphological and chemical properties of modern fish otoliths. Fifty mulloway (<em>Argyrosomus japonicus</em>) were processed in one of the following ways: boiled in freshwater; boiled in saltwater; roasted on the fire; wrapped in clay and roasted on the fire; salted and dried; and burnt completely in the fire. Seven fish were reserved as control samples. The otoliths were then subjected to morphological, trace element and isotope analyses. Results revealed disparities in the chemistry and morphology of otoliths processed in different ways, notably the salted and dried samples differed from the others. Results provide a standard by which to compare future archaeological analyses, thereby indicating the suitability of individual otoliths for use in palaeoenvironmental studies, and suggesting possible subsistence strategies employed by local Indigenous populations, as well as site formation processes. 

Authors:

DISSPAIN Morgan (1), ULM Sean (2), GILLANDERS Bronwyn (1)

 

Affiliations: 

1. University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia 
morgan.disspain@adelaide.edu.au
2. James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Creator

Morgan Disspain, Sean Ulm and Bronwyn Gillanders

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Citation

Morgan Disspain, Sean Ulm and Bronwyn Gillanders. "Do fish otoliths provide a reliable palaeoenvironmental record? An examination of the effects of cooking on morphology and chemistry. ," in BoneCommons, Item #1974, https://alexandriaarchive.org/bonecommons/items/show/1974 (accessed May 22, 2019).

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Creative Commons License

File: Entry 4-Disspain2-ICAZ presentation.pdf

File: Entry 4-Disspain1-Junior zooarch abstract.pdf