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 ( on July 2, 2022.

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.

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 have been published as a special issue of Archaeofauna, International Journal of Archaeozoology (Vol. 28, 2019).

The fourth NZWG academic meeting was held on October 27th, 28th and 29th 2021. The meeting was organized by Dr. Caroline Borges and colleagues of the Department of History of the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, UFRPE, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. The meeting theme was “Zooarchaeology, traditional societies, biodiversity and climate change: integrating perspectives between past and future”, in honor of Luz Segura.

 A total of 55 presentations were proposed, of which 52, 42 oral contributions and 10 posters, were finally scheduled in the eight thematic sessions. The sessions dealt with a broad range of neotropical research problems, namely: 1- Methodologies and case studies on the exploitation of marine resources of the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean; 2- The relationship between human societies and south American camelids: approaches from time and space; 3- Spatial and temporal diversity in the use of neotropical fauna; 4- Taphonomy and formation processes of archaeological sites; 5- New perspectives in the study of human-animal interactions; 6- Contributions to the understanding of mortuary contexts associated with animal remains; 7- Transformed nature: artifacts made from animal raw materials and 8- Multiple aspects of human-animal interaction in the Amazon. The final book of abstracts with its ISBN code can be consulted and downloaded here: .

A total of 312 attendants registered to the meeting, of which an average of 70 attended each session. Researchers came from 13 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Uruguay and the United States of America.

 It should be highlighted that the academic meeting called together the highest number of presentations from Brazil than ever before, and, by which, it represented a valuable opportunity to explore the current research on human-animal interactions in this neotropical country, specially focused in Amazon area.

The opening session, which can be watched here , included welcome words by Profa. Dra. Suely Cristina Albuquerque de Luna – Head of the Department of History and coordinator of the NEPARQ, representing the Dean of the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco and Ipê Institute, the UFRPE Research Institute. She was followed by Prof. Dr. Gustavo Acioli, Coordinator of the Postgraduate Program in History (PGH) of the UFRPE. The third speaker was Prof. Dr. Pablo M. Fernandez (CONICET-INAPL) representing the NZWG-ICAZ who was followed by Prof. Dr. Adriana Schmidt Dias (UFRGS), Vice President of the Brazilian Archaeology Society (SAB). Finally, Prof. Ms. Jaime de Lima Guimarães Júnior, representing the Center for Teaching and Archaeological Research (NEPARQ) of the UFRPE, closed the welcome session and gave place to the tribute to Luz Segura, a dear colleague who recently passed away, by Dr. Caroline Borges (UFRPE).

Two conferences open to the general audience were offered on the evening of its first two days. On Thursday, Dr. Felipe F. Vander Velden (Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil) lectured on By the hands of the whites: estrangement and conviviality between exotic animals and Indigenous peoples in the Lowland South America (watch on YouTube).

The following day, Dr. Ana Lúcia do Nascimento Oliveira (Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil) offered another presentation named Archaeology of Pernambuco: an overview .

On the last day, a discussion round table on the effects of the pandemic on researches and students gave place, then, to the closure of the IV academic meeting

 The final versions of some of this presentation were published in the Revista de Arqueologia of the Society of Brazilian Archaeology (SAB) as part of special dossier on Neotropical Zooarchaeology. The dossier is an effort to bring together diverse topics from very different perspectives and exemplify that thinking human-animal relationships from multiple research angles broadens and enriches our knowledge. Thus, the intrinsic richness of the Neotropics acquires an explanatory potential that we can trace in the guiding questions and in the several types of evidence we use to understand them. The complete volume can be downloaded from:

The next meeting of the NZWG will be held in Alberto Hurtado University (Santiago de Chile) on 18-20 November 2024 and will be organised by Boris Santander P., Isabel Cartajena F. and Paz Vergara. See you in Santiago!