Reconstruction of fishing activities in Pre-Colombian civilisations of the Southern Manabí Coast (Ecuador) on the basis of a comparison between actual and Holocene marine ichthyofauna Print
Written by Philippe Béarez   
Monday, 19 March 2012 05:48

Thèse présentée pour l'obtention du diplôme de DOCTORAT DU MUSEUM NATIONAL D'HISTOIRE NATURELLE, spécialité : Ichtyologie Générale et Appliquée, par Philippe BÉAREZ : Comparaison Des Ichtyofaunes Marines Actuelle Et Holocene Et Reconstitution De L'activite Halieutique Dans Les Civilisations Precolombiennes De La Cote Du Manabi Sud (Équateur).


The tropical semiarid climate of the coastal Southern Manabí is strongly influenced by oceanographic conditions and ENSO events. The related marine environment is poorly known, so data concerning the continental shelf ichthyofauna has been collected from small scale fishery landings, dive samplings and observations. Of the 606 species compiled from the bibliographic sources, 235 have been encountered, of which we have to add 15 new records and one new species of Myrocongridae; that brings the total up to 622. The biogeographic affinity of the fauna is mainly tropical (Panamanian province), although at least ten per cent of the species belong to the Peruano-Chilean province. Most of the collected and identified specimens have been incorporated in the osteological reference collection, which now counts 350 skeletons representing 220 species.

The archaeological assemblage of fish remains collected from Salango (site 141B-T3) corresponds to Engoroy and Guangala occupations spanning more than one thousand years (from 900 BC to 300 AD). The identification of 4,200 of the 24,859 fish bone fragments brought to light during the excavation represents 65 species in 35 families. The analysis of species composition, frequency of occurrence and number of identified specimens indicate that Engoroy Level I is distinct from the Engoroy II and Guangala levels, and that the environmental pattern was the same as today. A predominance of scombrid remains suggests that Euthynnus lineatus, Katsuwonus pelamis and Thunnus albacares, in that order, comprised the main catch of the ancient people of Salango. Further analyses suggest that the beach seine was the most likely fishing technique used by these people, operating cooperatively on coastal migration sites. Bottom fishes were also exploited, primarily by hook and line, as well as small mediolittoral fishes, through the poisoning of tide pools. Marine resources were exploited in both specialized and opportunist ways and there is no doubt they contributed mainly to the subsistence and possibly the development of coastal groups during Engoroy and Guangala phases.

Key-words: Eastern Pacific, Ecuador, Salango, Ichthyology, Archaeoichthyology, PreColombian fishing, Scombridae.

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