Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Volume 8 (August 2016)

Nayeli G. Jiménez-Cano, Marilyn A. Masson*


Abstract: The presence of marine catfishes (Ariopsis felis) in several pre-Hispanic Mayan sites indicates their importance in the economy of the region. The present study presents a method for predicting marine catfish body size, standard length, total length and weight from bones usually recovered from archaeological sites. Osteometrical studies provide regression formulae with high allometric relationships that were derived from 36 fresh catfish. Based on the regression coefficients, reliability of the measurements and survivorship of the bones in archaeological contexts, the following measurements were used: length of the supraoccipital, width of the otoliths, width of the dorsal spine, height of the cleithrum and width of the pectoral spines. The resulting equations were applied to archaeological catfish bones from two Maya sites, Xcambó and Mayapán. The application of the osteometric results provides an assessment of the contribution of fish to the economy and permits the identification of fishing methods from two Mayan settlements from the Classic (250–750 CE) to Postclassic (900–1461 CE) periods.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates and Staff