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Journal of Archaeological Science


This study explores the interrelationship between the genus Canis and hunter–gatherers through a case study of prehistoric Native Americans in the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento Delta area. A distinctive aspect of the region's prehistoric record is the interment of canids, variously classified as coyotes, dogs, and wolves. Since these species are difficult to distinguish based solely on morphology, ancient DNA analysis was employed to distinguish species. The DNA study results, the first on canids from archaeological sites in California, are entirely represented by domesticated dogs (including both interments and disarticulated samples from midden deposits). These results, buttressed by stable isotope analyses, provide new insight into the complex interrelationship between humans and canids in both ritual and prosaic contexts, and reveal a more prominent role for dogs than previously envisioned.


Reprinted from Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol 40/4, by Brian F. Byrd, Anna Cornellas, Jelmer W. Eerkens, Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, Tim R. Carpenter, Alan Leventhal, Jennifer A. Leonard, The role of canids in ritual and domestic contexts: new ancient DNA insights from complex hunteregatherer sites in prehistoric Central California, 2176-2189, Copyright 2012, with permission from Elsevier. The published version of the article can be found online at: