Habitat Preference and Seasonality

The species utilized by the inhabitants of the Wall and Fredricks sites can be divided into three groups based on their preferred habitats. Evidence for the seasons during which each species would have been procured is very limited.

Fish and all of the turtle species except box turtle are aquatic. Beaver are also dependent on an aquatic habitat. There is no archaeological evidence indicating at what seasons these species were collected. However, both turtles and fish are less readily available for exploitation during the winter. As only one beaver incisor was identified from the Wall site, it was not possible to determine the age of the individual or the season in which it was killed. The lesser scaup (identified in the Fredricks site assemblage) winters in North Carolina and occurs on lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Shelford (1963:59-60) lists white-tailed deer, black bear, gray squirrel, fox squirrel, raccoon, opossum, striped skunk, and turkey among the species of the oak-hickory forest. Flying squirrel and mountain lion are also forest species. Of these animals, deer, gray squirrel, raccoon, and opossum also commonly utilize the forest edge. Other forest edge species identified in the assemblages are cottontail rabbit, gray fox, and bobwhite. With the exception of the passenger pigeon, which was present during the fall (Schorger 1955:268, 280), all of these forest and forest edge species were year-round residents of the North Carolina Piedmont. Thus, their presence in the assemblages provides little indication of the seasons during which they were exploited. The low representation of juvenile rabbits in the assemblages may indicate that this species was exploited primarily during the spring when the ratio of mobile juveniles to adults would have been lower than at other times of the year (Smith 1975b:100, 115-116). Turkey and passenger pigeons would have congregated in large flocks during the fall, in order to take advantage of the mast available at that time; therefore, they would have been more easily exploitable during those months.

The fact that no rabbits were identified in the faunal assemblage from the Fredricks site, and that passenger pigeon was represented by only one individual at the Wall site, makes it possible that the deposits from which the Fredricks site assemblage was derived are more representative of fall activities, whereas those deposits from which the Wall site assemblage was derived are more representative of spring activities.

Archaeologically, it is possible to determine the season during which deer were killed for those individuals represented by skulls having antlers attached (indicating May-February) or shed (indicating December-May). It is also possible to determine the season during which fawns (less that 20 months old) were killed based on stages of tooth eruption (Severinghaus 1949). At the Wall site it was only possible to determine the season during which two of the 36 individuals were killed. One individual was killed between May and February, as indicated by an antler attached to a frontal fragment, and another individual was killed during the spring or early summer, as indicated by the stage of dental eruption evident in one mandible. From the Fredricks site assemblage, it was possible to determine that one of nine individuals had been killed between May and February. The seasons during which the other individuals had been obtained could not be determined.

There are no clear indications that the inhabitants of one of the sites exploited specific portions of their environment to either a greater or lesser extent than the inhabitants of the other site. Likewise, there are no indications that there were major differences in the seasons during which the species were exploited. This apparent similarity, however, may simply be the result of a lack of evidence discernible in the archaeological record.