La gestión de los recursos animales en la prehistoria del este de Uruguay (4000 años AP - siglo XVI).

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


The Uruguayan sector of the Laguna Merin Basin has been the subject of archaeological research from about 30 years ago. It is characterized archaeologically by the abundance of mounds, which are distributed throughout the region, but mainly related to lowlands and waterways. The proposed social models suggest the existence of hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies by circa 4000 B.P. They went through a process of social change, linked to Holocene climate and paleoenvironmental change, which involved increasing sedentarism and territoriality, the use of the mounds as burial sites, the adoption of ceramic technology, the production of domesticated plant and the emergence of villages and public architecture, among other features. In this context of change and social transformation, arqueofaunal evidence was interpreted as corresponding to a gradual increase of the range of exploited animal resources. Although the exploitations strategy was structured around a few species that would provide most of the animal biomass consumed: deer in continental sites and seals on the Atlantic coast. The management of animal resources in the prehistory of this region is analyzed through the analysis of the archaeofaunal assemblage from the site Ch2D01, excavation IA (2000-290 B.P.) and comparison and linkage with other archaeofaunal information available for both sites inland and coastal. This site was selected for its abundance, which exceeds by far all other archaeozoological samples analyzed so far, and for its good general preservation and contextual record. The analysis is focused on one hand on archaeotaphonomic issues, having to do with both, natural and anthropogenic taphonomic agents, but also related to the research itself. Furthermore, the study shows the influence of those agents in the anatomical and qualitative composition of the sample. This analysis, and its coordination with the regional information have significantly increased the understanding of prehistoric animal management in this region and its relationship with the environment. Taphonomically, the assemblage shows few modifications due animal or vegetal activity, but there is a significant presence of carbonate concretions. The preservation of animal remains in the site is very good showing few traces of wearing. The main taphonomic bias was the archaeological research itself, because the application of differential methods of excavation and recovery reduces the representativeness of the smaller taxa. The taxonomic spectrum and diachronic behavior suggest an animal management that relies on a few key species (marsh deer, pampas deer, aperea, otter, rhea and capybara). This thesis hypothesizes the existence of a rancher like management of the pampas deer with control of herds and a protodomestication of apereá. The development of other research areas such as ancient DNA and biometrics is needed go deeper in the verification of this hypothesis.
Date of Award10 Sept 2014
Original languageSpanish
SupervisorJordi Estevez Escalera (Director) & José María López Mazz (Director)


  • Uruguay
  • Archaezoology
  • Prehistory

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