Shell Mounds of the Southeast Coast of Brazil: Recovering Information on Past Malacological Biodiversity

  • Edson Pereira SilvaEmail author
  • Sara Christina Pádua
  • Rosa Cristina Corrêa Luz Souza
  • Michelle Rezende Duarte


Brazilian classical studies on archaeology have attempted to explain human settlement and cultural trajectories in different geographical regions. However, zoological remains found in archaeological sites can also provide important information on biological diversity. Shell mounds (or sambaquis, the Brazilian term for them derived from the Tupi language) are acknowledged as artificial constructions made under cultural aims. These deliberated accumulations enclose a sample of the fauna existing between at least 6500 years BP and the start of the Common Era. In this chapter studies dedicated to use archaeozoological remains as surrogates for Late Holocene malacological biodiversity of the Central-South Brazilian coast are reviewed. Important issues such as the establishment of baselines and the problem of bioinvasion are addressed. In pursuance, raw data from the reviewed publications are used to test the main assumption lying under all inferences done by them, namely that shell mounds can be used as samplers of the past mollusk fauna. In conclusion it is sustained that shell mounds can be useful proxies for Late Holocene biodiversity.


Biodiversity Archaeozoology Marine mollusks Sambaqui Quantitative analysis 



The authors would like to thank CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) for financial support (PNPD-Programa Nacional de Pós Doutorado) and scholarships for RCCL Souza (Post-doctorate) and MR Duarte (PhD). SC Pádua is financially supported by a CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) scholarship for Science Juniors (PIBIC-Programa Institucional de Bolsas de Iniciação Científica).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edson Pereira Silva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sara Christina Pádua
    • 1
  • Rosa Cristina Corrêa Luz Souza
    • 1
  • Michelle Rezende Duarte
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Genética Marinha e Evolução, Departamento de Biologia MarinhaInstituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal FluminenseNiteróiBrazil

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