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The Bridge River Dogs: Interpreting aDNA and Stable Isotope Analysis Collected From Dog Remains

By Emilia Tifental

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Excavations at the Bridge River site have been on-going since 2003, increasing our understanding of the communities that inhabited the Middle Fraser Canyon, British Columbia, over 1,000 years ago. The most recent excavation at Housepit 54 in the summer of 2014 supplied further data regarding relationships between people and their dogs. Dogs are well documented in the Middle Fraser Canyon through both archaeological excavations and traditional knowledge. A household's possession of a dog has been linked to other prestigious materials, and therefore been interpreted as an indicator of wealth and status. The present study was aimed at further investigation of the dog remains and the lives of the individuals that kept them. Ancient DNA analysis was conducted on a variety of dog remains from different occupations from Housepits 11, 16, 20, 24, and 54. Comprehensive stable isotope analysis of the same samples, with the addition of corresponding faunal remains for dietary comparison, was also completed. Results suggest a distinct mitochondrial lineage of dogs at Bridge River, and provide evidence for dietary change reflecting the complex relationship between the environment at Bridge River and the people that lived there.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 14 April 2016
Format PDF
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal remains
  2. Animal roles
  3. Archaeology
  4. DNA
  5. Dogs
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access