Date of Award

Winter 12-2018

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Quaternary and Climate Studies


Daniel Sandweiss

Second Committee Member

Bonnie Newsom

Third Committee Member

Julia Gray


Coastal shell midden archaeological sites uniquely preserve information regarding past human habitation there as well as the about the paleoenvironment. In this study, oxygen isotopes (δ18O) from archaeological Mya arenaria shells collected from the Tranquility Farm site in Gouldsboro, Maine were used to determine the site’s season of occupation. Modern Mya arenaria were collected throughout a calendar year from a nearby clam flat in Jones Cove, Gouldsboro to establish a modern isotopic baseline to which the archaeological shell δ18O values were compared. The results indicate that the archaeological samples occurred most frequently within the modern monthly winter values ranges. Additionally, this study highlights the challenges of comparing archaeological and modern samples. Determining the season of occupation at Tranquility Farm will contribute to archaeologists’ understanding of coastal subsistence and settlement patterns in Maine, and the observations made throughout the isotopic analysis can be used to inform further studies.