Journal of Archaeological Science
September 12, 2010
In April of 2010, Barney G. Bartellea led a group of archaeologists on a dig on San Nicholas Island, California, USA. Primary investigators included Bartellea, Rene Vellanoweth, Elizabeth Netherton, Nicholas Poister, William Kendig, Amira Ainis, Ryan Glenn, Johanna Marty, Lisa Thomas-Barnett and Steven Schwartz. The exact location of the excavation site is Tule Creek Village, East Locus, site CA-SNI-25. Bartellea aimed to contribute to the research focused on the prehistory of dogs in America, specifically in California, for which there is little archaeological dog remains. The primary questions behind this project were 1. How do the remains found relate to other dog remains found in the same area? 2. What was the relationship between this dog and the Native Americans who buried him? 3. How did the dog receive his injuries? 4. How did he survive as long as he did on one of the most remote islands off the coast of North America? Though there were several aspects of the investigation left open, what could be determined for certain was that the dog suffered blunt force trauma to the scapula, rib, and phalanges to such an extreme that it is unlikely he survived without human care. It is speculated that the dog hobbled on three healthy legs due to his injuries. The state of the healing process indicates the dog survived at least four months after the initial injuries. The regard the people of Tule Creek Village had for his dog is reflected in the great concern they took in his burial. Regardless of the fact that the cause of death cannot be confidently determined, the care shown in treatment of this dog’s illness and in his formal burial indicate that the people of San Nicholas Island, like humans from the opposite side of the world, felt some sort of bond with their dogs.