The explication of prehistoric subsistence economies has been of increasing interest to archaeologists. This emphasis is reflected, in part, by the considerable attention afforded faunal analyses in the recent archaeological literature. However, little effort has been made toward developing methods that permit meaningful comparisons of food resources at the interspecies level. Data pertinent to the calculation of both quantitative and qualitative food potential of many of the vertebrate animals represented in archaeological contexts are extant. These data are lacking for freshwater mussels, frequently found in archaeological sites in eastern North America. Information relevant to determining the food energy provided by freshwater mussels common to much of the Mississippi River drainage is presented. Results are applicable to more credible interpretations of prehistoric subsistence as related to animal food resources.
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