Oxygen isotope seasonality determinations of marsh clam shells from prehistoric shell middens in Nicaragua

André C. Colonese, Ignacio Clemente, Ermengol Gassiot, José Antonio López-Sáez

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Marsh clams (Polymesoda sp.) were an important dietary item for pre-Columbian people living along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Their intensive exploitation is synchronous with major cultural changes associated with the emergence of socio-political complexity in Central America. In this paper we present the results of an oxygen isotope seasonality study on archaeological shells retrieved from Karoline, a shell midden site dated to ~2 cal kBP and located along the southern margin of Pearl Lagoon (Caribbean coast of Nicaragua). Modern shells (Polymesoda arctata) were also analysed for stable isotopes. The results indicate that archaeological specimens from Karoline may have experienced different hydrological conditions or nutrient supply within the lagoon compared to present day. The seasonal analysis reveals that there were no preferential seasons for the collection of marsh clams during the distinct phases of site formation; instead, exploitation occurred throughout the year.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
Editors Monks, Gregory (Ed.)
Place of Publication(GB)
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
ISSN (Print)1877-9077


  • Central America
  • Coastal lagoon
  • Late Holocene aquatic exploitation
  • Mollusc shell
  • Stable isotopes


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