Advertisement

Stratigraphic and spatial variability in shell middens: microfacies identification at the ethnohistoric site Tunel VII (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina)

  • Ximena S. VillagranEmail author
  • Andrea L. Balbo
  • Marco Madella
  • Assumpció Vila
  • Jordi Estevez
Original Paper

Abstract

Based on ethnographic accounts from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, functional areas have been identified within Fueginian shell middens. In this context, archaeological microfacies acquire a functional meaning when the microscopic record is compared to information gathered from ethnology, macroscopic observations made during excavation, and experimental modern analogues. All these lines of evidence were combined for the first time at Tunel VII, an eighteenth/nineteenth century shell midden occupied repeatedly by Yamana people, the last hunter–gatherer–fisher groups of the Beagle Channel. The sampling strategy involved three sets of samples: (1) two stratigraphical columns taken from the hut “entrance” and from a portion of the shell midden (i.e., the surrounding refuse shell ring), (2) thin sections from five hearths representing successive phases of frequentation of the hut, and (3) experimental burnt valves of Mytilus edulis, the main malacological component of the site. Comparison of microfacies from groups (1) and (2) provided microscopic indicators to distinguish between shell dumping areas and occupation surfaces. Comparison of microfacies within columns from group (1) allowed recognizing periods of site abandonment and periods of more intense/longer site frequentation. The experimental samples from M. edulis served as a reference to characterize the five central hearths in terms of maximum burning temperatures reached. Different burning structures were correlated to the season of hut frequentation and to their location (and function) within different portions of the hut. The intra-site micromorphological comparison strategy within a well-documented ethnohistorical context provides valuable indicators for the identification of functional areas in archaeological contexts when ethnographical information is not available.

Keywords

Geoarchaeology Micromorphology Microfacies Yamana Intra-site analyses Beagle Channel 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, process no. 08/51264-0) for financially supporting Ximena Villagran’s doctoral research and to Bank Santander for allowing her 2010 research stay at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Milá y Fontanals Institution (IMF/CSIC). Special thanks go to Paulo Giannini (Universidad de Sao Paulo), Ivana Dragicevic (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona), Rosa Maria Poch (Universidad de Lleida), Ester Verdún (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona), and Myrian Alvarez (Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas).

References

  1. Bailey G (1977) Shell mound, shell middens, raised beaches in the Cape York Peninsula. Mankind 11:132–143Google Scholar
  2. Bajnócky B, Kovács-Kis V (2006) Origin of pedogenic needle-fiber calcite revealed by micromorphology and stable isotope composition—a case study of Quaternary paleosol from Hungary. Chemie der Erde 66:203–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balbo A, Madella M, Vila A, Estevez J (2010) Micromorphological perspectives on the stratigraphical excavation of shell middens: a first approximation from the ethnohistorical site Tunel VII, Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). Journal of Archaeological Science 37:1252–1259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bateman MD, Carr AS, Murray-Wallace CV, Roberts DL, Holmes PJ (2008) A dating intercomparison study on Late Stone Age coastal midden deposits, South Africa. Geoarchaeology 23:715–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beckze-Deák J, Langhor R, Verrecchia EP (1997) Small scale CaCO3 accumulations in selected sections of the European loess belt. Morphological forms and potential for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Geoderma 76:221–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berna F, Matthews A, Weiner S (2004) Solubilities of bone mineral from archaeological sites: the recrystallization window. Journal of Archaeological Science 31:867–882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bicho NF (1994) The end of the paleolithic and the mesolithic in Portugal. Curr Anthropol 5:664–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bird DW, Richardson JL, Veth PM, Barham A (2002) Explaining shellfish variability in middens on the Meriam Islands, Torres Strait, Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science 29:457–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bridges L (1975 [1947]) El último confín de la Tierra. Marymar, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  10. Bridges T (1987 [1933]) Yamana-English dictionary. Zagier & Urruty Publicaciones, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  11. Bullock P, Fedoroff N, Jongerius A, Stoops G, Tursina T, Babel U (1985) Handbook for soil thin section description. Waine Research Publications, WolverhamptonGoogle Scholar
  12. Butzer K (2004) Coastal Aolian sands, paleosols and Pleistocene geoarchaeology of the Southwestern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 31:1743–1781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cannon A (2000) Settlement and sea-levels on the central coast of British Columbia: evidence from shell midden cores. American Antiquity 65:67–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Canti MG (2003) Aspects of the chemical and microscopic characteristics of plant ashes found in archaeological sois. Catena 54:339–361Google Scholar
  15. Claassen C (1986a) Shellfishing seasons in the Prehistoric Southeastern United States. American Antiquity 51:21–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Claassen C (1986b) Temporal patterns in marine shellfish species use along the Atlantic Coast in the Southeastern United States. Southeastern Archaeology 5:120–137Google Scholar
  17. Colonese A, Camarós E, Verdún E, Estevez J, Giralt S, Rejas M (2011) Integrated archaeozoological research of shell middens: new insights into hunter-gatherer-fisher exploitation in Tierra del Fuego. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology (in press)Google Scholar
  18. Compton JS, Franceschini G (2005) Holocene geoarchaeology of the sixteen mile beach barrier dunes in the Western Cape, South Africa. Quaternary Research 63:99–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cortez-Sanchez M, Morales-Muñiz A, Simón-Vallejo M, Bergadá-Zapata M, Delgado-Huertas A, López-García P, López-Sáez JA, Lozano-Fransico MC, Riquelme-Cantal JA, Roselló-Izquierdo E, Sanchez-Marco A, Vera-Peláez JL (2008) Palaeoenvironmental and cultural dynamics of the Coast of Malaga (Andalusia, Spain) during the Upper Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews 27:2176–2193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Courty MA (2001) Microfacies analysis assisting archaeological stratigraphy. In: Goldberg P, Holliday VT, Reid Ferring C (eds) Earth sciences and archaeology. Kluwer, New York, pp 205–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Courty MA, Goldberg P, Macphail R (1989) Soils and micromorphology in archaeology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  22. Darwin C (1839) Journal and remarks (1832–1836). In: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826–1836. Examination of the southern shores of South America. Volume III. Henry Colburn, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Despard GP (1863) Fireland, or, Tierra del Fuego. Sunday at Home 10:676–680, 696–698, 716–718, 731–734, 744–748Google Scholar
  24. Erlandson JM, Rick T, Peterson C (2005) A geoarchaeological chronology of Holocene dune building on San Miguel Island, California. The Holocene 15:1227–1235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Estévez J, Vila A (1996) Etnoarqueologia: el nombre de la cosa. In: Estevez J, Vila A (eds) Encuentros en los conchales fueguinos, Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 1. CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, pp 17–23Google Scholar
  26. Estévez J, Vila A (2000) Estratigrafías en contexto. Krei 5:29–66Google Scholar
  27. Estévez J, Vila A (2006) Variability in the lithic and faunal record during ten reocupations of a XIX century Yamana hut. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25:408–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Estevez J, Juan-Muns N, Martinez J, Piqué R, Schiavini A (1996) Zooarqueología y antracología: estrategias de aprovechamiento de los recursos animales y vegetales en Túnel VII. In: Estevez J, Vila A (eds) Encuentros en los conchales fueguinos, Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 1. CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, pp 143–238Google Scholar
  29. Estevez J, Piana E, Schiavini A, Juan-Muns N (2001) Archaeological analyses of shell middens in the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego Island. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 11:24–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fedje DW, Christensen T (1999) Modeling paleoshorelines and locating Early Holocene coastal sites in Haida Gwaii. American Antiquity 64:635–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. FitzPatrick EA (1993) Soil microscopy and micromorphology. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Flügel E (2004) Microfacies of carbonate rocks: analysis, interpretation and application. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  33. Gassiot E, Estevez J (2005) Last foragers in coastal environments: a comparative study of the Cantabrian Mesolithic, Yamana of Tierra del Fuego and archaic foragers in the Central American coasts. In: Grier C, Uchiyama J (eds) Beyond affluent foragers. Oxbow Press, Oxford, pp 80–105Google Scholar
  34. Goldberg P, Miller C, Schiegl S, Ligouis B, Berna F, Conrad N, Wadley L (2009) Bedding, hearths, and site maintenance in the Middle Stone Age of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 1:95–122Google Scholar
  35. Gusinde M (1986 [1937]) Los Yamana. CAEA, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  36. Henderson W, Anderson LC, McGimsey C (2002) Distinguishing natural and archaeological deposits: stratigraphy, taxonomy and taphonomy of Holocene shell-rich accumulations from the Louisiana Chenier plain. Palaios 17:192–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Heusser CJ (2003) Ice Age southern Andes—a chronicle of paleoecological events. Developments in Quaternary Science 4:1–240Google Scholar
  38. Hyades P, Deniker J (1891) Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn 1882–1883, Tome VII, Anthropologie, Ethnographie. Gauthier-Villar et fils Imprimeurs-Libraires, ParisGoogle Scholar
  39. Jerardino A (1997) Changes in shellfish species composition and mean shell size from a Late-Holocene record of the west coast of southern Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 24:1031–1044CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jerardino A, Castilla JC, Ramirez JM, Hermosilla N (1992) Early coastal subsistence patterns in central Chile: a systematic study of the marine invertebrate fauna from the site of Caraumilla-1. Latin American Antiquity 3:43–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jones B, Kahle CF (1993) Morphology, relationship and origin of fiber and dendrite calcite crystals. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 63:1018–1031Google Scholar
  42. Juan-Muns N (1992) La pesca com alternativa econòmica per als Yàmana, nòmades canoers del Canal Beagle. Dissertation, Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  43. Karkanas P, Bar-Yosef O, Goldberg P, Weiner S (2000) Diagenesis in prehistoric caves: the use of minerals that form in situ to assess the completeness of the archaeological record. Journal of Archaeological Science 27:915–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kennett D (2005) The Island Chumash. Behavioral ecology of a maritime society. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  45. Lindbo DL, Stolt MH, Vepraskas MJ (2010) Redoximorphic features. In: Stoops G, Marcelino V, Mees F (eds) Interpretation of micromorphological features of soils and regoliths. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 129–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lothrop SK (1928) The Indians of Tierra del Fuego. Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  47. Lovisato D (1884) Appunti etnografici con accenni geologici sulla Terra del Fuoco. Cosmos VIII 4:97–108, 5:129–151Google Scholar
  48. Mallol C, Marlowe F, Wood B, Porte C (2007) Earth, wind and fire: ethnoarchaeological signals of Hadza fires. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:2035–2052CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mameli L (2004) La gestión del recurso avifaunístico por las poblaciones canoeras del archipiélago fueguino. Dissertation, Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  50. Mameli L, Estevez J (2004) Etnoarqueozoología de aves: el ejemplo del extremo Sur Americano. Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 6Google Scholar
  51. Martial LF (2005 [1888]) Misión al Cabo de Hornos. Zagier & Urruty Publications, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  52. Milner N, Barret J, Welsh J (2007) Marine resource intensification in Viking age Europe: the molluscan evidence from Quoygrew, Orkney. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:1461–1472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Morey DF, Crothers GM (1998) Clearing uo clouded waters: palaeoenvironmental analysis of fresh wáter mussel assemblages from the Green River Shell middens, western Kentucky. Journal of Archaeological Science 25:907–926CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Morey DF, Crothers GM, Stein JK, Fenton JP, Herrmann N (2002) The fluvial and geomorphic context of Indian Knoll, an archaic shell midden in West-Central Kentucky. Geoarchaeology 17:521–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Orquera LA (1996) Tunel VII: la estratigrafia. In: Estevez J, Vila A (eds) Encuentros en los conchales fueguinos, Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 1. CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, pp 83–103Google Scholar
  56. Orquera LA (1999) El consumo de moluscos por los canoeros del extremo sur. Relaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología 24:307–327Google Scholar
  57. Orquera LA, Piana E (1992) Un paso hacia la resolución del palimpsesto. In: Borrero LA, Lanata L (eds) Análisis Espacial en la Arqueología Patagónica. Ayllu, Buenos Aires, pp 21–52Google Scholar
  58. Orquera LA, Piana E (1996a) Tunel VII en la secuencia arqueológica del Canal Beagle: hipotesis y expectativas de los investigadores argentines. In: Estevez J, Vila A (eds) Encuentros en los conchales fueguinos, Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 1. CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, pp 25–45Google Scholar
  59. Orquera LA, Piana E (1996b) Túnel VII: la excavación. In: Estevez J, Vila A (eds) Encuentros en los conchales fueguinos, Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 1. CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, pp 47–74Google Scholar
  60. Orquera LA, Piana E (1999) Arqueología de la región del Canal Beagle (Tierra del Fuego, República Argentina). Publicaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  61. Orquera LA, Piana E (2000) Composición de conchales de la costa del Canal Beagle: primera parte (Tierra del Fuego, República Argentina). Relaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología 25:249–274Google Scholar
  62. Orquera LA, Piana E (2001) Composición de conchales de la costa del Canal Beagle: segunda parte (Tierra del Fuego, República Argentina). Relaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología 26:345–368Google Scholar
  63. Piana E, Orquera LA (1996) Tunel VII: la cronologia. In: Estevez J, Vila A (eds) Encuentros en los conchales fueguinos, Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 1. CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, pp 105–111Google Scholar
  64. Piana E, Estevez J, Vila A (2000) Lanashuaia: un sitio de canoeros del siglo pasado en la costa norte del canal Beagle. Desde el País de los Gigantes, Tomo II, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral, Rio Gallegos, pp 455–469Google Scholar
  65. Piqué R (1999) Producción y uso del combustible vegetal: una evaluación arqueológica. Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 3, CSIC-UAB, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  66. Reitz E (1988) Faunal remains from Paloma, an archaic site in Peru. American Anthropologist 90:310–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rosendahl D, Ulm A, Weisler M (2007) Using foraminífera to distinguish between natural and cultural shell deposits in coastal eastern Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:1584–1593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schiegl S, Goldberg P, Bar-Yosef O, Weiner S (1996) Ash deposits in Hayonim and Kebara caves, Israel: macroscopic, microscopic and mineralogical observations, and their archaeological implications. Journal of Archaeological Science 23:763–781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Solé A (1991) Micromorfología: Métodos y técnicas microscópicas aplicadas a la Arqueología. In: Vila A (ed) Arqueología: Nuevas tendências. CSIC, Madrid, pp 23–43Google Scholar
  70. Spears JR (1895) The gold diggings of Cape Horn (a study of life in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia). G.P. Putnam, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  71. Stein J (1992a) The stratigraphy of shell middens. In: Stein J (ed) Deciphering a shell midden. Academic, San Diego, pp 1–24Google Scholar
  72. Stein J (1992b) Interpreting stratification of a shell midden. In: Stein J (ed) Deciphering a shell midden. Academic, San Diego, pp 71–93Google Scholar
  73. Stein J (1992c) Sediment analysis of the British Camp shell midden. In: Stein J (ed) Deciphering a shell midden. Academic, San Diego, pp 135–162Google Scholar
  74. Stein J (1996) Geoarchaeology and archaeostratigraphy: view from a northwest coast shell midden. In: Reitz EJ, Newsom LA, Scudder SJ (eds) Case studies in environmental archaeology. Plenum, New YorK, pp 35–52Google Scholar
  75. Stein J, Kornbacher KD, Tyler J (1992) British Camp shell midden stratigraphy. In: Stein J (ed) Deciphering a shell midden. Academic, San Diego, pp 95–134Google Scholar
  76. Stiner MC, Bicho N, Lindly J, Ferring R (2003) Mesolithic to Neolithic transitions: new results from shell middens of the western Algavre, Portugal. Antiquity 77:75–86Google Scholar
  77. Stoops G (2003) Guidelines for analysis and description of soil and regolith thin sections. Soil Science Society of America, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  78. Tonner TW (2005) Later Stone Age shellfishing behaviour at Dunefield midden (western Cape, South Africa). Journal of Archaeological Science 32:1390–1407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Van Vliet-Lanoë B (2010) Frost action. In: Stoops G, Marcelino V, Mees F (eds) Interpretation of micromorphological features of soils and regoliths. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 81–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Verdun E (2006) Análisis de la malacofauna de un conchero. Revista Atlántico Mediterránea de Prehistória y Arqueología Social 8:53–69Google Scholar
  81. Verdun E (2010) Molluscs as sedimentary components. MUNIBE-Suplemento 31:294–301Google Scholar
  82. Verrecchia EP, Verrecchia KE (1994) Needle-fiber calcite: a critical review and a proposed classification. Journal of Sedimentary Research 3:650–664Google Scholar
  83. Vila A, Piana E, Madella M, Barceló J.A, Zurro D, Clemente I, Terradas X, Verdún E, Pique R, Mameli L, Briz, I. (2010) Microstratigraphy of shell middens of Tierra del Fuego. In: Oosterberg L (ed) Humans: evolutions and environment. Proceedings of the XV World Congress (Lisbon, 4–9 September 2006). Vol 22 British Archaeological Reports, Oxford, pp 109–119Google Scholar
  84. Villagran X, Giannini P, Deblasis P (2009) Archaeofacies analyses: using depositional attributes to identify anthropic processes of deposition in a monumental shell mound of Santa Catarina State (Southern Brazil). Geoarchaeology 24:311–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Villagran X, Klokler D, Nishida P, Gaspar MD, DeBlasis P (2010) Lecturas estratigráficas: arquitectura funerária y depositación de resíduos em el sambaqui Jabuticabeira II. Latin American Antiquity 21:195–216Google Scholar
  86. Villagran X, Balbo A, Madella M, Vila A, Estevez J (2011) Experimental micromorphology in Tierra del Fuego (Argentina): building a reference collection for the study of shell middens in cold climates. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:588–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Waselkov GA (1987) Shellfish gathering and shell midden archaeology. Advances in Archaeological method and Theory 10:93–210Google Scholar
  88. Wattez J (1992) Dynamique de formation des structures de combustion de la fin du Paleolithique ao Neolithique moyen. Dissertation, Université de Paris IGoogle Scholar
  89. Weiner S, Goldberg P, Bar-Yosef O (2002) Three-dimensional distribution of minerals in the sediments of Hayonim cave, Israel: diagenetic processes and archaeological implications. Journal of Archaeological Science 29:1289–1308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Whittaker FH, Stein J (1992) Shell midden boundaries in relation to past and present shorelines. In: Stein J (ed) Deciphering a shell midden. Academic, San Diego, pp 25–42Google Scholar
  91. Wilkes C (1844) U.S. exploring expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, under the command of Captain Fitz-Roy R.N. Volume I. C. Sherman, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  92. Wunsch G (1996) De la articulación espacial del registro arqueológico a la gestión del espacio social: um ejemplo de aplicación del análisis de las interrelaciones espaciales (ANITES). In: Estevez J, Vila A (eds) Encuentros en los conchales fueguinos, Treballs d’Etnoarqueologia 1. CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, pp 127–142Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ximena S. Villagran
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Andrea L. Balbo
    • 2
  • Marco Madella
    • 3
  • Assumpció Vila
    • 2
  • Jordi Estevez
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of GeosciencesUniversidade de São Paulo (IGc/USP)São PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Institución Milá y FontanalsSpanish National Research Council (IMF/CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.ICREA, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Institución Milá y FontanalsSpanish National Research Council (IMF/CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Prehistory, Facultad de Filosofía y LetrasUniversidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain

Personalised recommendations