A stable isotope method for identifying transatlantic origin of pig (Sus scrofa) remains at French and English fishing stations in Newfoundland

From the 16th century onward, various European nations shared fishing spaces off the coast of Newfoundland in an effort to provide salt-fish products to supplement increasing European demand. Faunal remains excavated at seasonal and permanent Newfoundland fishing stations indicate that pigs were the primary mammal species consumed by cod fishermen. It is not clear whether these pig remains derive from salt pork and/or live pigs imported from Europe or, rather, from pigs bred and raised in Newfoundland. Based on the notion that Newfoundland-raised pigs would have had greater access to marine-derived foods from nearby fisheries compared to their European-raised counterparts, we analyzed stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values from 28 pigs and 117 other faunal specimens from Dos de Cheval (EfAx-09) and Ferryland (CgAf-02) in order to identify individuals with marine or terrestrial isotope dietary signatures. Results indicating two distinct groups of pigs with mean δ13C and δ15N values differing by ∼6‰ and ∼9‰, respectively, suggest differing pig-product origins at each site. This method for identifying the transatlantic origin of pig remains has potential to shed light on patterns in the provisioning of the early European transatlantic fishing industry and inter-community relations. It may also allow for the development of more sophisticated body part representation models for zooarchaeological reconstruction of barreled salt pork use. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.