Mesodesma donacium as a Paleoclimatic Archive on the Coast of Peru

Author(s): Stephanie Gruver

Year: 2018


Quebrada Jaguay is one of the earliest maritime settlements in the New World. The southern Peruvian coastal site was occupied from the Terminal Pleistocene to the Middle Holocene ~13 to 8 ka and demonstrates a society highly dependent upon marine resources. Archaeological deposits excavated in the 1990’s and 2017 contained high volumes of marine faunal remains, predominantly the surf clam Mesodesma donacium, which accounts for 99% of the shell remains. M. donacium are used in this study to examine seasonality of occupation and paleoenvironmental conditions. Incremental stable oxygen isotope ratios from the calcium carbonate of the shells allow for sea surface temperature (SST) reconstruction from the onset of shell development until harvest.

Reconstructing SST from multiple shells allows for the development of monthly averages during site occupation. The final temperature sequence of each shell defines the season of harvest, which then informs on the seasonality of human occupation. Periods of environmental instability, such as El Niño events, are identifiable as significant deviation from the monthly SST averages. Paleoenvironmental reconstructions of Quebrada Jaguay provide insights on occupation patterns as well as how early inhabitants of Peru responded to environmental instability.

Cite this Record

Mesodesma donacium as a Paleoclimatic Archive on the Coast of Peru. Stephanie Gruver. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443150)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20887