The Underlying Spatial Structure of a Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) Bonebed Assemblage in the Fuegian Region, Subantarctic Insular Argentina

  • Joan NegreEmail author
  • Fernando Santiago
  • Mónica Salemme


Several recent papers have focused on new evidence pointing to the possibility of the mass procurement of guanacos in Fuegian pedestrian hunter-gatherer groups. These works are linked to the excavation of Las Vueltas 1 (northern Tierra del Fuego, Argentina), an archaeological site mainly characterised by a vast guanaco bonebed. This paper is part of that discussion, adding a new line of evidence over the zooarchaeological record using spatial statistics. Our hypothesis considers the formation processes of LV1 were caused by a communal hunting party, which implies the synchronous deposition of the guanaco assemblage in a single event. Consequently, the underlying spatial structure of the bonebed should be clearly identifiable, since neither superposition of events nor cleaning patterns are expected. Our proposal embraces an interdisciplinary approach and offers a practical methodology to address the general problem of analysing the spatial structure of an archaeological site, without additional, time-consuming analysis. The results of the different statistical tests have proved to be insightful about the formation processes of the LV1 bonebed, and they are consistent with the initial hypothesis regarding the functionality of the site as a guanaco mass hunting site.


Zooarchaeology Spatial statistics Mass hunting site Bonebed Formation processes 



This research was funded by Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas through the PIP-CONICET 0302/12 (F.S.) and 0409/13 (M.S.). We wish to thank the technical and infrastructural support from the Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas. L. Turnes, P. Bartolome, R. López, A. Raies, F. Bruzzoni, J. Sartori, B. Colasurdo, J. Oría, M. Coll, G. pinto Vargas, M. Oronao, E. Llacsa, A. Montes and to all the students who helped us during fieldwork. Estancias M. Behety and Flamencos helped us with permissions to work there. Likewise, Dr. Daniel Rafuse, Dra. Julieta Sartori and Prof. Marcel Kornfeld provided valuable comments to the undertaking of the research presented here. We want to finally appreciate the input of the two anonymous reviewers and their useful comments and suggestions for improving the manuscript.


  1. Alperson-Afil, N., & Goren-Inbar, N. (2010). The Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya’aqov (Vol. 2). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey, G. (2007). Time perspectives, palimpsests and the archaeology of time. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 26(2), 198–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barceló, J. A. (2007). Introducción al estudio de la variabilidad de las evidencias arqueológicas. Bellaterra: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.Google Scholar
  4. Bartram, L. E., Kroll, E. M., & Bunn, H. T. (1991). Variability in camp structure and bone food refuse patterning at Kua San hunter-gatherer camps. In E. M. Kroll & T. D. Price (Eds.), The interpretation of archaeological spatial patterning (pp. 77–147). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baxter, M. J., Beardah, C. C., & Wright, R. V. S. (1997). Some archaeological applications of kernel density estimates. Journal of Archaeological Science, 24, 347–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Behrensmeyer, A. K. (2007). Bonebeds through geologic time. In R. R. Rogers, D. A. Eberth, & A. R. Fiorillo (Eds.), Bonebeds: Genesis, analysis and paleobiological significance (pp. 65–102). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Binford, L. R. (1978). Dimensional analysis of behavior and site structure: Learning from an Eskimo hunting stand. American Antiquity, 43(3), 330–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Binford, L. R. (1983). In pursuit of the past. Decoding the archaeological record. New York: Thames and Hudson.Google Scholar
  9. Borrazzo, K., & Borrero, L. A. (2014). Taphonomic and archaeological perspectives from northern Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Quaternary International, 373, 96–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Borrero, L. A. (1990). Fuego Patagonia bone assemblage and the problem of communal guanaco hunting. In L. B. Davis & B. Reeves (Eds.), Hunter of the recent past (pp. 339–373). London: Unwyn Hyman.Google Scholar
  11. Borrero, L. A. (1991). Los Selk'nam. Evolución cultural en la Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. Buenos Aires: Búsqueda-Yuchán.Google Scholar
  12. Borrero, L.A. (2001) Regional Taphonomy: background noise and the integrity of the archaeological record. In Kuznar, L.A. (ed.) Ethnoarchaeology of Andean South America. Contributions to Archaeological Method and Theory (pp. 243–254). International Monographs in Prehistory, Ethnoarchaeological Series 4.Google Scholar
  13. Borrero, L. A. (2013). Estrategias de caza en Fuego-Patagonia. Comechingonia, 17, 9–24.Google Scholar
  14. Bourlot, T. (2007) Nuevas excavaciones en sitios estratificados a cielo abierto en la cuenca del Lago Cardiel (Santa Cruz, Argentina). Arqueología de Fuego-Patagonia. Levantando piedras, desenterrando huesos... y develando arcanos. Editado por F. Morello, M. Martinic, A. Prieto y G. Bahamonde, pp: 637–647. Punta Arenas, Chile.Google Scholar
  15. Brantingham, P. J., Surovell, T. A., & Waguespack, N. M. (2007). Modeling post-depositional mixing of archaeological deposits. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 26(4), 517–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brooks, A., & Yellen, J. E. (1987). The preservation of activity areas in the archaeological record: Ethnoarchaeological and archaeological work in northwest Ngamiland, Botswana. In S. Kent (Ed.), Method and theory for activity area research: An Ethnoarchaeological approach (pp. 63–106). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Carr, C. (1984). The nature of Organization of Intrasite Archaeological Records and Spatial Analytic Approaches to their investigation. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, 7, 103–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carr, C. (1991). Left in the dust: contextual information in model-focused archaeology. In E. M. Kroll & T. D. Price (Eds.), The interpretation of archaeological spatial patterning (pp. 221–255). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carrer, F. (2015). Interpreting intra-site spatial patterns in season contexts: an ethnoarchaeological case study from the western alps. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory doi.
  20. Casali, R. (2013). Conquistando el fin del mundo. La Misión la Candelaria y la salud de la población Selk'nam, Tierra del Fuego 1895–1931. Rosario: ProHistoria Ediciones.Google Scholar
  21. Church, R., & Lyman, R. L. (2003). Small fragments make small differences in efficiency when rendering grease from fractured artiodactyl bones by boiling. Journal of Archaeological Science, 30, 1077–1084.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Clarke, D. (1977). Spatial archaeology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  23. Cliff, A. D., & Ord, J. K. (1973). Spatial autocorrelation. London: Pion.Google Scholar
  24. Colasurdo, B., Santiago, F. & Salemme, M. (2012). Guanacos, sexo y edad. El caso del sitio Las Vueltas 1. (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina). Comechingonia, 16, 139–153.Google Scholar
  25. Costamagno, S., Bon, F., & Valdeyron, N. (2011). Hunting camps in prehistory. Current archaeological approaches. P@lethnology, 3, 347–354.Google Scholar
  26. Friesen, T. M., & Stewart, A. (2013). To freeze or to dry: Seasonal variability in caribou processing and storage in the barrenlands of northern Canada. Anthropozoologica, 48, 89–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Furlong, C. W. (1912). Hunting the guanaco. Outing Magazine, 61, 3–20.Google Scholar
  28. Gusinde, M. (1990). Los Indios de Tierra del Fuego. Buenos Aires: Centro Argentino de Etnología Americana.Google Scholar
  29. Hitchcock, R. K. (1987). Sedentism and site structure: organizational changes in Kalahari Barsawa residential location. In S. Kent (Ed.), Method and theory for activity area research: an ethnoarchaeological approach (pp. 374–423). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hodder, I., & Orton, C. (1976). Spatial analysis in archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hutson, S. R., Stanton, T. W., Magnoni, A., Terry, R. E., & Craner, J. (2007). Beyond the buildings: Formation processes of ancient Maya houselots and methods for the study of non architectural space. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 26, 442–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kintigh, K., & Ammerman, A. (1982). Heuristic approaches to spatial analysis in archaeology. American Antiquity, 47, 31–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kornfeld, M. (2003). Pull of the hills, landscape archaeology and Gret Plains forager economy. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.Google Scholar
  34. Kvamme, K. L. (1990). Spatial autocorrelation and the classic Maya collapse revisited: refined techniques and new conclusions. Journal of Archaeological Science, 17(2), 197–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. LaBelle, J. M., & Pelton, S. R. (2013). Communal hunting along the continental divide of northern Colorado: Results from the Olson game drive (5BL147), USA. Quaternary International, 297, 45–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Legendre, P., & Legendre, L. (2012). Numerical ecology. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  37. Lubinski, P. M. (2013). What is adequate evidence for mass procurement of ungulates in zooarchaeology? Quaternary International, 297, 167–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lucas, G. (2005). The archaeology of time. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Lyman, R. L. (2004). The concept of equifinality in taphonomy. Journal of Taphonomy, 2(1), 15–26.Google Scholar
  40. Lyman, R. L. (2007). The Holocene history of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) in eastern Washington State. Northwest Science, 81, 104–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Macchi, G. (2009). Spazio e misura. Introduzione ai metodi geografico-quantitativi applicati allo studio dei fenomeni sociali. Siena: Università degli Studi di Siena.Google Scholar
  42. Marchand, G., Naudinot, N., Philibert, S., & Sicard, S. (2011). Chasse aux haltes sur un site azilien de l’Ouest de la France. In S. Costamagno & N. Valdeyron (Eds.), P@lethnology (pp. 271–294). Toulouse: Université Toulouse Le Mirail.Google Scholar
  43. Mardia, K. V. (1985). Mardia's test of multinormality. In S. Kotz & N. L. Johnson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of statistical sciences (pp. 217–221). Nueva York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  44. Matthews, J. A. (1981). Quantitative and statistical approaches to geography. Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  45. Mengoni, G. L. (1999). Cazadores de guanacos de la Estepa Patagónica. Buenos Aires: Sociedad Argentina de Antropología.Google Scholar
  46. Montes, A., Santiago, F., Salemme, M., López, R., & Magneres, I. (2016). Geoarqueología en la duna de laguna Las Vueltas, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. In Actas del XIX Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Argentina (pp. 1622–1628). San Miguel de Tucumán: UNT.Google Scholar
  47. Moran, P. A. (1950). Notes on continuous stochastic phenomena. Biometrika, 37(1), 17–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Muñoz, A. S. (2009). Los cánidos como agentes tafonómicos en los depósitos arqueológicos de la Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. In M. Salemme, F. Santiago, M. Alvarez, E. L. Piana, M. Vázquez, & E. Mansur (Eds.), Arqueología de Patagonia. Una mirada desde el último confín (pp. 759–771). Ushuaia: Ediciones Utopía.Google Scholar
  49. Muñoz, A. S. (2012). Guanaco butchering by hunter-gatherers from Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, Southern Patagonia. In K. Seetah & B. Gravina (Eds.), Bones for tools - tools for bones (pp. 75–86). Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.Google Scholar
  50. Negre, J., Álvarez, M., Pal, N., Bas, M., Briz, I., Lacrouts, A., & Lasa, A. (2016b). Variabilidad espacial e intensidad de ocupación en sitios cazadores-recolectores de la costa atlántica de Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). Arqueología Iberoamericana, 32, 37–51.Google Scholar
  51. Negre, J., Muñoz, F., & Lancelotti, C. (2016a). Geostatistical modelling of chemical residues on archaeological floors in the presence of barriers. Journal of Archaeological Science, 70, 91–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. O'Connell, J. F. (1987). Alyawara site structure and its archaeological implications. American Antiquity, 52(1), 74–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ord, J. K., & Getis, A. (1995). Local spatial autocorrelation statistics: distributional issues and an application. Geographical Analysis, 27(4), 286–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Outram, A. K. (2001). Bone fracture and within-bone nutrients: an experimental based method for investigating levels of marrow extraction. In P. Miracle & N. Milner (Eds.), Consuming passions and patterns of consumption (pp. 51–64). Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.Google Scholar
  55. Pasda, K. (2013). Caribou hunting and utilization in West Greenland: past and present variants. Anthropozoologica, 48(1), 111–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Premo, L. S. (2004). Local spatial autocorrelation statistics quantify multi-scale patterns in distributional data: an example from the Maya lowlands. Journal of Archaeological Science, 31(7), 855–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Raedecke, K. (1978). El guanaco de Magallanes, Chile. Su distribución y su biología. Santiago de Chile: Corporación Nacional Forestal Ministerio de Agricultura de Chile.Google Scholar
  58. Reitz, E.J. & Wing, E.S. (2004). Zooarchaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Ripley, B. D. (1976) The Second-Order Analysis of Stationary Point Processes. Journal of Applied Probability, 13(2), 255.Google Scholar
  60. Rogers, R. R., & Kidwell, S. M. (2007). A conceptual framework for the genesis and analysis of vertebrate skeletal concentrations. In R. R. Rogers, D. A. Eberth, & A. R. Fiorillo (Eds.), Bonebeds. Genesis, analysis and Paleobiological significance (pp. 1–63). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rondelli, B., Lancelotti, C., Madella, M., Pecci, A., Balbo, A., Ruiz Pérez, J., Inserra, F., Gadekar, C., Cau Ontiveros, M. A., & Ajithprasad, P. (2014). Anthropic activity markers and spatial variability: an ethnoarchaeological experiment in a domestic unit of northern Gujarat (India). Journal of Archaeological Science, 41, 482–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Santiago, F. (2013). La ocupación humana en el norte de Tierra del Fuego durante el Holoceno medio y tardío. Ushuaia: Editora Cultural Tierra del Fuego.Google Scholar
  63. Santiago, F., Pal, N., & Salemme, M. (2009). Análisis tecno-morfológico y funcional del material lítico de superficie del sitio Las Vueltas 1 (norte de la Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego). Relaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología, 34, 231–250.Google Scholar
  64. Santiago, F., Pal, N. & Salemme, M. (2017). Tecnología ósea en el sitio Las Vueltas 1 durante el Holoceno tardío (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina). Abstract p. 125, X Jornadas de Arqueología de la Patagonia. Puerto Madryn.Google Scholar
  65. Santiago, F., & Salemme, M. (2009). Las Vueltas 1: un sitio de matanza de guanacos del Holoceno tardío en el norte de Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). In M. Salemme, F. Santiago, M. Álvarez, E. L. Piana, M. Vázquez, & M. E. Mansur (Eds.), Arqueología de Patagonia. Una mirada desde el último confín (pp. 785–804). Ushuaia: Editorial Utopías.Google Scholar
  66. Santiago, F., & Salemme, M. (2010). A guanaco kill site in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The case of Las Vueltas 1. Before Farming, 2, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Santiago, F., & Salemme, M. (2016a). Guanaco hunting strategies in the northern plains of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 43, 110–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Santiago, F., & Salemme, M. (2016b). Instrumentos expeditivos o fracturas intencionales? Aportes a la discusión sobre los “machacadores” óseos de Patagonia. In A. Nogueira (Ed.), III Encuentro Latinoamericano de Zooarqueología. Aracaju: Universidade Federal de Rondônia - Departamento de Arqueología.Google Scholar
  69. Santiago, F., Salemme, M., & Pardiñas, U. F. J. (2016). Análisis de restos de roedores del sitio arqueológico Las Vueltas 1, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Revista Arqueología, 22, 211–230.Google Scholar
  70. Schiffer, M. B. (1987). Formation processes of the archaeological record. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  71. Smith, B. D. (2013) Modifying landscapes and mass kills: Human niche construction and communal ungulate harvests. Quaternary International, 297, 8–12.Google Scholar
  72. Spurling, B., & Hayden, B. (1984). Ethnoarchaeology and intrasite spatial analysis: a case study from the Australian western desert. In H. Hietala (Ed.), Intrasite spatial analysis in archaeology (pp. 224–241). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Stevenson, M. G. (1991). Beyond the formation of hearth-associated artifact assemblages. In E. M. Kroll & T. D. Price (Eds.), The interpretation of archaeological spatial patterning (pp. 269–299). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Thomas, D. H. (1969). Great basin hunting patterns: a quantitative method for treating faunal remains. American Antiquity, 34, 392–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Tobler, W. (1970). A computer movie simulating urban growth in the Detroit region. Economic Geography, 46, 234–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Veen, A., & Schoenberg, F. P. (2006). Assessing spatial point process models using weighted K-functions: analysis of California earthquakes. Lecture Notes in Statistics, 185, 293–306.Google Scholar
  77. Whallon, R. (1973). Spatial analysis of occupation floors I: application of dimensional analysis of variance. American Antiquity, 38, 266–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Whallon, R. (1974). Spatial analysis of occupation floors II: the application of nearest neighbor analysis. American Antiquity, 39, 16–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Whallon, R. (1984). Unconstrained clustering for the analysis of spatial distributions in archaeology. In H. J. Hietala (Ed.), Intrasite spatial analysis in archaeology (pp. 242–277). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratori d’Arqueologia Quantitativa, Departament de PrehistòriaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Centro Austral de Investigaciones CientíficasConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasUshuaia (Tierra del Fuego)Argentina
  3. 3.Universidad Nacional de Tierra del Fuego (UNTDF)Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego)Argentina

Personalised recommendations