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Using Multi-Proxy Evidence to Evaluate Captive Animal Management in the Prehistoric Caribbean

Author(s): Christina M. Giovas

Year: 2017

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For some time archaeologists have speculated that non-native mammals introduced to the prehistoric Caribbean may have been managed in captivity, but direct evidence for this practice has been wanting. The question of management is complicated by ambiguous and conflicting data from ethnohistory, animal behaviour, and archaeology, as well as potentially unwarranted assumptions about human interaction with synanthropic animals. I examine this issue for introduced agouti (Dasyprocta sp.) and opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) in the pre-Columbian Lesser Antilles, using multi-proxy evidence to evaluate their potential captive management. Data from dental eruption sequences, rates of epiphyseal fusion, and stable C, N, Pb and Sr isotopes are employed to examine the cultural role of agouti and opossum and potential management strategies employed by Amerindians. These data provide baselines for addressing the impact of introduced agouti and opossum on fragile island environments and potential incipient domestication in the Pre-Columbian era.

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Using Multi-Proxy Evidence to Evaluate Captive Animal Management in the Prehistoric Caribbean. Christina M. Giovas. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430461)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15750

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America