Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Applied Archaeology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Niewoehner, Wesley


In this thesis, I discuss Fish Ridge on San Miguel Island. Fish Ridge is an area located on east San Miguel Island that contains numerous archaeological sites. For my thesis, I went to San Miguel Island in the summer of 2019 to collect 18 radiocarbon samples from five sites. In this thesis, I present the results of my analysis, which include radiocarbon dating, calibration of the radiocarbon dates, and Bayesian statistical analysis. I offer an interpretation of the results, including a discussion of them and avenues for future research.

Prior to this study, a comprehensive chronological analysis of Fish Ridge had not been conducted. For this study, I established a local chronology. I analyzed five distinct shellfish middens from the area in terms of 14C dates, with a total of 18 individual shellfish from the middens studied. The shellfish I studied for this thesis were red abalone, black abalone, and California mussel shells. Results from the raw, uncalibrated 14C dates revealed that the shellfish dated to 7315–6038 BP. Refined 14C dating and Bayesian modelling additionally suggested a fairly narrow span of time for Fish Ridge’s occupation. With an overall probability considerably high at 95%, Bayesian analysis indicated that the middens were continuously utilized by Paleocoastal people during the conclusion of the Early Holocene and the beginning of the Middle Holocene, between 7600 and 6140 cal BP. From an anthropological perspective, this study emphasizes the importance of shellfish as a major subsistence for Paleocoastal people on SMI during the aforementioned period. The multiple radiocarbon dates in this thesis help the archaeological community better understand subsistence selection and priorities for Paleocoastal people during the aforementioned period.

My research highlights the utility of 14C dating, calibration, and Bayesian modelling to build a reliable, local chronology. With this new information, archaeologists will be able to have a broader understanding of the archaeological record of both Fish Ridge and SMI. My research also encourages the archaeological community to conduct other research on Fish Ridge, such as dietary reconstruction studies, thorough excavations, and further Bayesian analysis modelling. The dates provide more context regarding when and where these coastal inhabitants harvested shellfish, as well as their specific subsistence strategies during the last component of the Early Holocene and the first component of the Middle Holocene. With these 14C dates, my research reinforces the preexisting archaeological data pertaining to subsistence strategies for Paleocoastal people on SMI. The chronology I have produced also provides the archaeological community with a specific understanding of when Paleocoastal people most likely made use of Fish Ridge.