EVALUATING MOBILITY, MONUMENTALITY, AND FEASTING AT THE SAPELO ISLAND SHELL RING COMPLEX
Two of the most salient anthropological questions regarding southeastern shell ring sites are related to the season(s) that they were occupied and whether or not the deposits represent monumental constructions and/or feasting remains. This paper addresses these questions through the analysis of growth band of clams (Mercenaria spp.) (N = 620) and stable oxygen isotope ratios of clam and oyster shells (Crassostrea virginica) (N = 58) at the Sapelo Island Shell Ring complex located on the Georgia coast, USA. The season of death and the samples' position in the shell matrix at Sapelo provide important information on the rate of shell deposition and the season(s) the site was occupied. These data support the view that at least some portion of the human population at Sapelo occupied the site year-round. Additionally, while it appears that two shell rings at the site formed through the gradual deposition and accumulation of daily subsistence, other areas evidence short term, large-scale, shellfish processing and may lend credence to the view that at some point shell rings become monuments, commemorating rituals and gatherings.