Mangareva Fishing Strategies in Regional Context: an Analysis of Fish Bones from Five Sites Excavated in 1959

  • Marshall I. Weisler
  • Roger C. Green
Keywords: Polynesia, Mangareva, marine subsistence, faunal analysis, fish bone

Abstract

In 1959, Roger Green conducted pioneering excavations in Mangareva (or Gambier Islands), French Polynesia, at five rockshelters on three islands (Kamaka, Aukena and Mangareva) totalling ~86 m2 (~99 m3). We report the analysis of 11,340 fish bones yielding 1738 number of identified specimens (NISP) and 421 minimal numbers of individual fish (MNI) dominated by inshore species including parrotfishes (Scaridae), groupers and rockcods (Serranidae), wrasses (Labridae) and surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae). Some 13 fish families (and Elasmobranchii or sharks and rays) were identified. Comparisons with 16 other Oceanic fish bone studies, which report an average of 24 ± 4 families, suggests that larger excavated samples in Mangareva using fine sieving should document additional fish families. Specific comparisons with fish bone assemblages from Reao Atoll, Tuamotus and the makatea island of Henderson (Pitcairn Group) – all within ~500 km of Mangareva – demonstrates the unique composition of the Mangareva archaeo-fauna which is dominated by inshore fish families that could have been captured by a range of hook techniques and, secondarily, netting. The lower pharyngeals of parrotfish were measured to examine spatial (between sites) and temporal changes in fish size. A decrease in fish bone density in one rockshelter tentatively suggests that fishing diminished in later prehistory.
Published
2013-01-31
How to Cite
Weisler, M. and Green, R. (2013) “Mangareva Fishing Strategies in Regional Context: an Analysis of Fish Bones from Five Sites Excavated in 1959”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 4(1), pp. 73-89. Available at: https://pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/104 (Accessed: 14December2019).
Section
Articles