International Council
for Archaeozoology

Neotropical Zooarchaeology Working Group

Logo credit: Patricio López Mendoza


News on the Neotropical Zooarchaeology Working Group (NZWG-ICAZ)

Contributed by NZWG-ICAZ coordinators (nzwg.icaz@gmail.com) on November 9, 2018.

The Neotropics range from southern North America to southern South America and adjacent islands. A number of distinct properties characterize this biogeographic region, which are relevant to understanding the diversity and evolution of human-animal interactions through time and the resulting archaeofaunal record. The mission of the ICAZ Neotropical Zooarchaeology Working Group (NZWG) is to offer a forum where these research problems can be discussed and information on them shared.

The Neotropical Zooarchaeology Working Group (NZWG) comprises more than 200 researchers and students interested in human-animal relationships and their record in the Neotropics – the biogeographic region ranging from southern North America to southern South America and adjacent islands.

Before formally becoming a Working Group, the session "Neotropical Zooarchaeology and Taphonomy" was held at the 10th International Conference of ICAZ in México DF in 2006, and the contributions were published in Quaternary International (Vol. 180, 2008). Then the NZWG was formed and it first met at the 11th ICAZ International Conference in Paris, France, in 2010. The 1st Academic Meeting was held in Santiago de Chile in 2012, jointly organized with NZWG member Isabel Cartajena. These contributions were published in a special issue of the journal Etnobiología (Vol. 12(2), 2014).  The 2nd Academic Meeting of the NZWG took place within the 12th ICAZ International Conference in San Rafael, Argentina, in 2014. Contributions to this meeting were published in volume Zooarchaeology in the Neotropics: Environmental diversity and human-animal interactions, edited by Springer in 2017. It includes ten chapters on a wide array of subjects and case-studies on human-animal interactions and the properties of the zooarchaeological record throughout the region, with implications for the whole Neotropics and beyond. Also, a workshop on camelid osteology and osteometry was held jointly with the South American camelids session organizers at the 12th ICAZ International Conference in 2014, and a workshop on zooarchaeology laboratories was held at the III ELAZ meeting in Aracaju, Brazil, in 2016.

More recently, in November 2017, the 3rd Academic Meeting of the NZWG was held in San José de Mayo, Uruguay, jointly organized with NZWG member Laura Beovide, around the theme: From ocean to ocean, multiple looks on human-animal relationships in the Neotropics. The Meeting was dedicated to the memory of dear Christopher Markus Götz, an active and generous member of the NZWG, who did so much for the Zooarchaeology of the region, and a tribute was also paid to dear colleague Mariana De Nigris, also a key zooarchaeologist in the Neotropics, who passed away only weeks before the meeting. As usual, an administrative meeting was also held during the meeting, at which NZWG coordinators were partly renewed, with Caroline Borges and Rosa Souza from Brazil replacing Elizabeth Ramos-Roca (Colombia) and Mariana Mondini (Argentina), and Pablo Fernández and Sebastián Muñoz from Argentina continuing for a new period. Finally, a field trip took place around different archaeological areas of the Department of San José in Uruguay. The meeting registration, the field trip and student accomodation were totally free to the participants thanks to the efforts of Laura Beovide and collaborators and to the sponsorship of the Government of San José Department and the Ministry of Education and Culture in Uruguay.

The contributions to the 3rd Academic Meeting of the NZWG were organized into four thematic session: (1) Methodological tools for interpreting the Neotropical zooarchaeological record; (2) Interactions between humans and Neotropical animals: regional trajectories;  (3) Human/animal relationships in Neotropical coastal and riverine environments, and (4) The archaeological record of Neotropical small carnivores. The participation of invited speakers included Dr. Antonio Rosas González (MNCN-CSIC, Spain), Dr. Walter Norbis (Instituto de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Uruguay), and Dr. Sergio A. Martínez (Dpto. de Paleontología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Uruguay). The Book of Abstracts is available online, and the contributions will soon be published as a special issue of Archaeofauna, International Journal of Archaeozoology (Vol. 29, 2019).

After these NZWG meetings in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, we are already working on the next one in Brazil in 2020! The 4th Academic Meeting of the NZWG will be held at the Instituto de Ciências Humanas of Federal University of Federal de Pelotas (UFPel), jointly organized with Caroline Borges and the Laboratório de Ensino e Pesquisa em Antropologia e Arqueologia (LEPAARQ-UFPel), and with the support of and the Programa de Pós-graduação em Antropologia (PPGAnt-UFPel) and of the Sociedade de Arqueología Brasileña. Pelotas, in southern Brazil, is in an archaeologically rich area, surrounded by Cerritos de Indios (indigenous shellmounds) and guaraní culture sites, as well as more recent charque produncing estates and colonial period houses. Pelotas is also a relevant university node in Brazil, with the UFPel as one of the largest and most important universities in Rio Grande do Sul state, and one of the first to establish graduate and postgraduate programs in Anthropology and Archaeology in Brazil. The LEPAARQ laboratory in particular has a long tradition in research, including zooarchaeology, so visiting it all will certainly be very exciting. Further news on the 2020 NZWG Academic Meeting there will soon be available.

This and other information on Neotropical zooarchaeology, including notes, reviews and plenty of news, can be found in the NZWG Newsletters. They can be accessed at the NZWG web page.

We invite researchers and students interested in zooarchaeology in the Neotropics to join the NZWG and stay tuned with interesting news in this research area. You just need to email us at nzwg.icaz@gmail.com. Please spread the word!

ICAZ NZWG Coordinators (nzwg.icaz@gmail.com):

  • Pablo M. Fernández, NZWG Coordinator (CONICET-INAPL, Argentina, pfernand@retina.ar)
  • A. Sebastián Muñoz, NZWG Coordinator & Liaison (CONICET-UNC, Argentina, smunoz@conicet.gov.ar)
  • Caroline Borges, NZWG Coordinator & Liaison (LEPAARQ-UFPEL, Brasil, arqueocarol@gmail.com)
  • Rosa Souza- NZWG Coordinator (LABIARQ – UFS, Brasil, rcclsouza@yahoo.com.br )