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ICAZ San Rafael, 2014

Organised by Christina M. Giovas, Zhanna Antipushina and Catherine F. West

Two sessions covering aspects of archaeolomalacology were run at the ICAZ conference held in San Rafael, 22nd – 27th September 2014. These two AMWG sessions are as follows:


Analyses of mollusc remains from archaeological sites, shell middens, and natural deposits provide a window onto paleo-environments and past human interactions with those environments. Molluscs have been used to assess temperature and climate, as indicators of declining foraging efficiency and anthropogenic environmental impacts, and as evidence for the management of marine/freshwater resources and incipient aquaculture. Various approaches and theoretical models have been employed to tackle these subjects and have advanced considerably since the publication of Claassen’s authoritative manual on archaeomalacology some fifteen years ago. A holistic discussion of these methods, their relative strengths, and novel applications, is now timely. This session will examine the ways in which mollusc remains serve as environmental proxies, as well as reflect the complex relationship between humans, aquatic resources, and the environment. The goal of this session is to bring together international scholars to provide a synthetic treatment of these issues, integrating and extending the methodology and theory employed by researchers to address topics at the intersection of human paleoecology, archaeomalacology, and the environment. Session themes involve historical biogeography/ecology, environmental archaeology, palaeoecology and site formation processes, among others. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Environment reconstructions
  • Isotopic analysis, climate, temperature etc.
  • Sclerochronological analysis, population demography, seasonality etc.
  • Aquaculture and molluscs management
  • Human impacts on molluscan resources
  • Molluscan ecology as it relates to human exploitation
  • Sustainable use of molluscs
  • Quantitative approaches and modelling


Animals are exploited by humans in a variety of ways. Archaeozoological studies often stress food consumption and production although animals were also important sources of raw materials (leather, bone, antler, tooth, shell, etc). This research field has lately started expanding, especially since the formation of the WBRG and AMWG within ICAZ. The ICAZ Meeting in Argentina represents a great opportunity to explore global patterns in animal exploitation for raw materials since researchers from every corner of the world will be assembled together. In this session, we are looking for universal patterning in the way animals are used as sources for raw materials, stressing comparative aspects. We are looking for papers focusing on choice of taxa, biomechanics, subsistence, ethology, ethnology, availability, and raw material selection, technical style and social identities, as well as symbolic and ritual aspects. For organizational purposes, this symposium will have two parts

  • Part I – Technological Issues

Organised by Vivian Scheinsohn and Natacha Buc

Topics may range from the earliest times to the present. Methodological and theoretical contributions such as morphological variability, tool use, manufacturing processes, experimental programs, microscopic analysis, and taphonomic studies as these relate to raw material studies would also be welcome additions.

  • Part II – Socio-cultural issues

Organied by Annalisa Christie and Alice M. Choyke

This section focuses more on what animal remains can tell us about the societies and cultures exploiting it. Themes that could be discussed could include: How and by whom these resources were exploited, how this exploitation was organized within society, what the resources were used for (ornamentation, subsistence, economic purposes) and how these secondary stages of exploitation were executed.

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