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Oxygen isotopic composition of limpet shells from the Beagle Channel: Implications for seasonal studies in shell middens of Tierra del Fuego

AuthorsColonese, André Carlo ; Verdún, Ester; Álvarez, Myrian; Briz i Godino, Iván ; Zurro Hernández, Débora ; Salvatelli, Lorena
KeywordsBeagle Channel
Nacella deaurata and Nacella magellanica
Shell oxygen isotope records
Littoral social dynamic
Seasonal exploitation
Issue Date2012
CitationJournal of Archaeological Science 39 : 1738-1748 (2012)
AbstractShell middens distributed along the coastal areas of the Beagle Channel (Tierra del Fuego) testify the primary role of marine resources in the successful social dynamic of hunter-gatherer-fisher societies (HGF) in extreme high latitude environmental conditions. Intertidal and subtidal limpet species are frequently identified taxa of these archaeological deposits. We investigated whether shell δ 18O of the limpet species Nacella deaurata is a valuable record of local sea surface temperature (SST) and ambient water δ 18O (δ 18Ow) fluctuations, and in turn can be used to estimate the season of its exploitation by Holocene HGF. Sequential shell δ 18O of modern species track seasonal changes of SST and δ 18Ow. The comparison of shell δ 18O profiles of N. deaurata and Nacella magellanica (a coexisting species) suggests the occurrence of distinct growth rate and physiological adaptations between species. Shell δ 18O of zooarchaeological specimens of N. deaurata from Lanashuaia II suggests that animals were exploited predominantly in winter and that experienced similar environmental conditions of present day at ∼1320 years BP. Results also indicate that N. deaurata is a valuable candidate for studying past seasonal changes in SST and δ 18Ow in this southernmost part of South America.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.012
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