ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202103.0617.v1
Subject: Arts & Humanities, Anthropology & Ethnography Keywords: Spondylus shells; archaeomalacology; archaeozoology; pre-Hispanic Ecuador; knowledge representation; formal concept analysis.
Online: 25 March 2021 (13:55:39 CET)
Shells, probably like no other product of nature, have played an important role in the history of mankind. The pre-Hispanic civilizations of Ibero-America also used certain type of shells profusely in their religious ceremonies, in particular, in Ecuador there were two species of main importance, the Spondylus princeps and the Spondylus calcifer broadly employed to manufacture ornaments that possess a strong symbolic, religious and social meaning and that were almost exclusively used by ruling classes. Among these ornaments, the faces carved on the Spondylus shells are little known. In the present study, we chose a total of fifteen (15) pieces from the Pastor Restrepo Lince´s archaeomalacology collection to understand the possible uses of these objects, through the interpretation of the gestures represented on the faces, their dimensions, and their geographical distribution in pre-Hispanic Ecuador. To achieve the proposed objective, we approach the present investigation from the perspective of the formal analysis of concepts, which is a mathematical theory of representation of knowledge, finding that these faces carved in Spondylus, were used daily or in special ceremonial occasions and that its use was common in all the regional cultures of ancient Ecuador, from the oldest such as Valdivia, and for more than 2000 years, indicating a long tradition of the use of Spondylus as an object of great symbolic and economic value until the arrival of the Spanish
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202203.0210.v1
Subject: Arts & Humanities, Archaeology Keywords: oysters; eastern Baltic Sea; zooarchaeology; archaeomalacology; written sources; archaeological finds; medieval; early modern
Online: 15 March 2022 (11:23:59 CET)
Along most of the European littoral, oysters were appreciated as a wholesome and palatable food since the Stone Age, yet were transported much further from their natural habitats when long-distance trade in marine foodstuffs began in medieval times. The brackish waters of the Baltic Sea are not considered a suitable environment for this mussel, and therefore all archaeological oyster shell finds are the result of import to the eastern Baltic. In this study, over 1000 shells found in different medieval and early modern archaeological contexts in Estonia were analysed and the obtained data recorded in a data repository. Some conclusions are set out, based on shell size and shape, and breakage traces, but more detailed taphonomic studies are left for the future. The study identifies the earliest imports of oysters recorded by archaeological material and written sources. Both show records not much earlier than the 16th century AD. Although no information is preserved about the exact origin of oysters imported to Estonia, the oyster beds most probably exploited are those in the central eastern North Sea, i.e. the Wadden Sea.