One of the largest and most important challenges faced by themodern world is that of food security, which is having reliable access to asufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. This is becomingincreasingly difficult to provide for everyone around the world as ourpopulations continues to grow to enormous numbers, as of writing the populationcurrently stands at 7,593,980,000; 200,000 more than yesterday.
Withpopulations set to reach 10 billion by 2055, which is believed to be thecurrent carrying capacity of the planet more innovative solutions must be foundto produce more food in a sustainable way. In this essay I will be looking athow archaeology can pull its weight in the modern world, by assessing the processesand solutions which past human populations used to over come their own food challengesusing both coastal and oceanic ecosystems and how this can be used to informand tackle present day issues. One example of a site in which past human civilisations have hadan impact on their local oceanic environment is that Kwakshua Channel, betweenthe islands of Calvert and Hecate, located on the central coast of BritishColumbia in Canada. The channel is 12km long, mostly consisting of rocky intertidal zone and deep waters. There also a numbercalm, sheltered inlets along the western end of the channel, these shelteredinlets provide comparatively shallow water and soft sediment beaches which areideal clam habitat.
This clam habitat enabled multiple species of clams tothrive in the British Columbia area, such as butter clams, eastern soft-shellclams, native littleneck clams, horse clams and heart cockles. Together withthis productive shellfish habitat, at the entrance to the inlet stretching upto 1km out into the ocean is the rocky intertidal and the extremely productivetidal kelp forest habitat, which was home to a large variety of fish such as lingcod,rock fish and greenling. (Jackleyet al. 2016.
) The archaeological context of the site is that pastsocieties have been living along the British Columbian coast continuously sinceat least 10,000 B.P. These societies have been exploiting the abundant foodsources from both the variety of oceanic habitats and species, and the seasonalterrestrial animals. (Jackley et al.
2016.) Evidence for this exploitation comesthrough the use of faunal analysis of shell middens found along the KwakshuaChannel, this analysis indicated that there was a large range of fish, marinemammals and shellfish consumed by these societies. The shellfish found consistedof mainly of butter clams, native littleneckclams, horse clams, cockles, whelks, sea urchins, barnacles, limpest, mussels,and chitons. (Jackleyet al. 2016.
) From the faunal remains recovered there was a strongindication that the clam harvest at Kwakshua Channel was seasonal, and variedin number between the four larger village sites and the food processing sites,meaning that the area was highly populated, and that the area had abundantamounts of food available. Which may have been caused by the modificationswhich were made to some beaches to create clam gardens, increasing the biomassof the clams produced in these gardens.Research conducted by (Jackleyet al. 2016.) shows the types of modifications which past humansocieties of British Columbia undertook to improve the yield of food they wereable to achieve from the local clam species, through the use of clam gardens,which from the faunal evidence gathered through excavating the shell middensfound around multiple sites along the Kwakshua channel we can tell was animportant seasonal resource for these peoples. Jackley recorded 8 clam gardens,3 cleared clam beaches which did not have modified walls, and were in factaltered by having the stones removed, as a result of which meant that there wereless favourable conditions on these beaches for clams than on the modifiedwalled clam gardens. 16 completely unmodified beaches were also recorded.
Therewere a number of physical differences found between walled and non-walled clambeaches, the clam gardens were mostly found to be located at the edges and atthe mouth of the multiple inlets which come off the Kwakshua Channel, theslopes were also different between the two types of clam habitat, with the walledclam gardens having a gentler slope whilst the unwalled beaches were steeper.The sediment composition was also different between the sites with the clamgardens mostly containing shell hash mixed with gravel. The unaltered beachesin contrast mostly consisted of silt and mud, with a steep gradient into thewater. (Jackley et al.2016.) (Figure 3, Jackley et al. 2016.
) The modification which pasthuman societies made to create these clam gardens made a significant differeceto the availiablilty of food, which enabled them to live in greater numbers andcontinuesouly at this site for over 10,000 years. Evidence collected by (Jackley et al. 2016.
) shows that a greater biomass ofbutter clams and littleneck clams were present in the walled clam gardens thanin the unaltered beaches, this was due to tidal stations being further up thebeaches in the walled clam gardens, than in those without walls. The extended rock wall meant that the optimum clamgrowing habitat was extended beyond what would occur naturally, at the unalteredbeaches. The removal of the other habitats at the less suitable beaches would mean that the clams would moveto the more suited managed clam gardens, meaning harvesting was easy,increasing yields further. Jackley foundthat the amount of biomass and the density of all clam species found at the siteswere higher in the walled clam gardens.Ethnographic sources from thenative populations of the British Columbian coast suggests that past humansocieties of the areas including Kwakshua Channel had territorial areas whichcould only be fished/exploited at certain times and these areas would move toallow stocks to replenish, this meant that no area was too heavily exploited tothe extent that the ecosystem could not recover. (Olson 1955, Jackley et al. 2016.) This sustainable practice is something which must be adopted bypresent day societies, food security is a challenge which will continue to becomemore important as the modern-day population continues to increase, with a net increaseof over 200,000 per day, hunger will begin to be the greatest problem faced bythe modern world.
There are currently over 820,000,000 undernourished people inthe world, to combat this many people believe that mass farming is thesolution, however this is damaging to the environment in several ways, firstlythousands of hectares of jungle is cut down daily to create farm land, this causeloss of habitat for animal species whilst also reducing the amount of CO2 whichis taken in and removed from the atmosphere. Secondly, with intensive cattlefarming being used to provide protein for the increasing population largeamounts of CO2 are being produced, causing global temperatures to rise,increasing the rate at which our icecaps are melting. These all have major implicationson present day society, which I believe by looking at ways in which past humansocieties dealt with similar problems could be upscaled using modern technologyto both increase the amount of food yielded, but by also producing this food ina more sustainable way.The ways in which both theterrestrial and oceanic resources on the central coast of British Columbia weresustainably managed for prolonged human usage was through the systematic use ofterritoriality and governance which has been in placed for generations. Thisrespect for regulated seasonal harvesting periods, and for allowing the landand ocean to recover by moving on to other rested areas of the coast has meantthat large populations have been able to thrive in the central coast region for10,000 years. This can also be seen in the species which are fished, asdifferent species would also be caught at different times, allowing populationsto re-stabilise, making sure than future generations would be able to continueto hunt and fish the area.
(Powell 2012). The evidence from the increased biomass carriedout by Jackley shows that restricted usage, seasonal exploitation and themodification and improvement of clam gardens meant that they could continue tosurvive in large numbers. This could have implications for modern societies asit shows that diversity in the food we produce can help to stop themonocultures and monocrops which reduce biodiversity and cause speciesdepletion.
Introducing heavier regulations, as indigenous people of BritishColumbia have been doing for generations, on which fish/fishing areas could becaught would allow fish stocks to replenish back to healthy levels, allowingmore fish to be caught and consumed in the future, reducing the amount of peopleliving without food security whilst increasing the sustainability of theindustry.