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Faunal Analysis

Submitted by mccaffer on Wed, 01/30/2008 - 6:34pm

The most abundant artifact class found at Santa Isabel was animal bone, totalling roughly 250,000.  The great majority of these were fish bones from Lake Nicaragua.  The high recovery rate of delicate fish bone is a testament to the outstanding preservation conditions that exist at the site.  This finding is in contrast to the conclusion reached by Pohl and Healy (1980) who, using the archaeological materials recovered by Willey and Norweb in the early 1960s, were forced to conclude that there were no fish present, despite recognizing the presence of net-weights for fishing.  This is probably more a reflection on the recovery techniques of the time, when mesh screens were not used and therefore only the more obvious bones were collected.

turtle shell in situ

Turtle shell in situ


Armadillo shell in situ

Armadillo shell in situ 


Analysis of the Project SIN faunal remains was conducted by Bryanne Hoar and Angelica Lopez-Forment, who each produced theses (Hoar 2005; Lopez-Forment 2008).  Hoar quantified the entire collection, while López-Forment dealt in greater detail with the mammals. Fish comprise about half of all identified bones--when unidentified bones were taken into consideration the proportion jumped to about 75%.  Reptiles were the next more abundant, though this numer was inflated due to the high number of turlte shell fragments recovered.  Mammals made up 12% of the identified bones, and deer were the most abundant of these at about 70% of all mammal bones.  Interestingly, domesticated dog and turkey were almost absent from the faunal assemblage, leading López-Forment (2008) to suggest that the inhabitants of Santa Isabel subsisted on a hunter-gatherer strategy relying on the rich local ecology. 

 Faunal pie chart

faunal tablePie chart of faunal assemblage based on identified bones (from Hoar 2005)


Deer pelvis    

Deer pelvis                                                           Apple snail shells

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