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Colonisation and Late Period Faunal Assemblages from Ofu Island, American Samoa

Marshall I. Weisler, Ariana B.J. Lambrides, Seth Quintus, Jeffrey Clark, Trevor Worthy


The identification and analysis of 1583 bones from colonisation (~2700 cal BP) to late period (post-800 cal BP) cultural layers from archaeological site AS-13-41 on Ofu Island, American Samoa are reported. The assemblage is dominated by fish (~91 per cent; NISP = 1435, MNI = 162) with bones of human, Green Sea Turtle, sea birds (shearwaters and petrels) and a terrestrial bird (Buff-Banded Rail), as well as the commensals Pacific Rat, chicken (Red Junglefowl) and pig. We report here the first prehistoric records of Pacific Flying Fox (Pteropus tonganus) and the endemic Tooth-Billed Pigeon (Manumea, Didunculus strigirostris) from colonisation layers and two pelagic fish species only recorded from late prehistoric deposits: Mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) and flying fish (Exocoetidae). These and numerous genus-level fish identifications of surgeonfish (Acanthuridae), squirrelfish and soldierfish (Holocentridae), snapper (Lutjanidae) and parrotfish (Scaridae) are additional new fish records for Samoan prehistory reflecting the breath of the fish reference collection as well as the practice of using all fish bones for identification; ~37 per cent of bones were assigned to family. Colonisation period deposits are characterised by greater quantities of fish, turtle and bird bones, declining towards later prehistory signalling the likely effects of human predation and an increasing emphasis towards agricultural production.


Samoa; faunal analysis; Pteropus tonganus; Didunculus strigirostris; Katsuwonus pelamis; ubiquity analysis

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ISSN (print) 1179 4704; ISSN (online) 1179 4712
Published with the assistance of the Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, University of Otago.
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