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The Archaeology of Human-Environmental Dynamics on the North American Atlantic Coast$
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Leslie Reeder-Myers, John A. Turck, and Torben C. Rick

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066134

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066134.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

Sea Level Rise and Sustainability in Chesapeake Bay Coastal Archaeology

Sea Level Rise and Sustainability in Chesapeake Bay Coastal Archaeology

Chapter:
(p.107) 5 Sea Level Rise and Sustainability in Chesapeake Bay Coastal Archaeology
Source:
The Archaeology of Human-Environmental Dynamics on the North American Atlantic Coast
Author(s):

Leslie Reeder-Myers

Torben C. Rick

, Leslie Reeder-Myers, John A. Turck, Torben C. Rick

Victor D. Thompson

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813066134.003.0005

The productive woodlands, estuaries, and coastlines of the Middle Atlantic region of North America have been home to Native Americans from the Paleoindian period to the modern day. Inhabitants of this region adapted to broad environmental changes, including the emergence of Chesapeake Bay when rising seas drowned the Susquehanna River valley around 8000 years ago. Estuarine conditions expanded throughout the Holocene, alongside the establishment of a rich and diverse forest environment. Much of the evidence for human harvesting of coastal resources has likely been obscured by sea level rise and modern development, but first appears around 5000 years BP. By the Middle Woodland (2500 to 1100 BP), people were harvesting oysters, clams, fish, and other bay resources as part of a broad foraging subsistence. When Europeans arrived, at least some of the people living around Chesapeake Bay were practicing agriculture while also harvesting oysters and other resources. Oyster harvesting was remarkably consistent and sustainable through time, with minimal impact on oyster populations or other environmental conditions. This long history of sustainable fishing practices in the face of persistent sea level rise and climate change suggests that reduced harvest pressure may be a key component to restoring modern Chesapeake ecosystems.

Keywords:   Middle Atlantic region, Sustainable fishing practices, Historical ecology, Estuary resource use

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