UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The subsistence economy of the Locarno Beach culture (3300-2400 B.P.) Stiefel, Sheryl Kay


This thesis is concerned with analysing vertebrate fauna (mammals, birds, and fish) from the Locarno Beach culture (3300-2400 B.P.) of the Fraser River Delta area in southern British Columbia. The principal objective is to reconstruct site level vertebrate exploitative patterns for the Locarno Beach culture components at the Locarno Beach (DhRt 6), Whalen Farm (DfRs 3), and Musqueam NE (DhRt 4) sites. Qualitative and quantitative faunal analytic methods are employed to evaluate faunal data from each component. Data are also evaluated by seasonal availability and preferred habitat categories. The results of the faunal analysis indicate that Locarno Beach culture populations exploited mainly riverine and foreshore resources. Salmon is the major vertebrate resource, followed by land mammals (deer and elk) and waterfowl (mainly diving species). Intensive herring, flatfish, and waterfowl exploitation took place at two sites (DhRt 6 and DfRs 3), probably in conjunction with shellfish harvesting during the late winter through early spring (February to April). DhRt 6 was also occupied during the spring to early summer (April to June) for surf smelt procurement. The third site (DhRt 4) was occupied from late winter through the summer and may have been a major encampment for Fraser River salmon procurement. DhRt 4 also shares many attributes associated with Marpole and Late Prehistoric culture village sites. It is concluded that the Locarno Beach culture vertebrate subsistence economy is part of the Northwest Coast pattern. The Locarno Beach culture is a development from the St. Mungo culture (4300 - 3300 B.P.) with greater emphasis on riverine resources, especially salmon. Locarno Beach culture vertebrate fauna data indicate a range of site types, including seasonal resource extraction sites, salmon fishing sites, and possibly a winter village site. Similar to Marpole (2400-1600 B.P.) and Late Prehistoric (1600-1100 B.P.) cultures, Locarno Beach culture populations of the Fraser Delta exploited aggregated resources (e.g. herring, flatfish, waterfowl, and shellfish) at seasonally occupied camps during the late winter to early spring. The primary summer subsistence activity was salmon procurement. Preliminary evidence suggests that Fraser River sockeye salmon runs (late summer to fall) were intensively exploited with fishing nets near DhRt 4. Prolonged occupation at DhRt 4 during the winter may indicate that this site was a winter village, as well as a fishing site.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.