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Digital Companion to 'Archaeofauna at Isla Cilvituk, Campeche, Mexico: Residential Site Structure and Taphonomy in Postclassic Mesoamerica'

Content related to a chapter in 'The Archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals'

Project Abstract

Project Note

This content pertains to the chapter 'Archaeofauna at Isla Cilvituk, Campeche, Mexico: Residential Site Structure and Taphonomy in Postclassic Mesoamerica' in The Archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals (Christopher Götz and Kitty F. Emery, eds.), published by Lockwood Press. The Archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals is an edited volume that links many of its chapters to rich digital content published open access with Open Context. The authors have chosen to link their chapters to related online content (including primary data, maps, and additional images) in order to provide additional research resources in their subject area. The Archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals is available for purchase from ISD.


Taphonomy, preservation, representativeness, and comparability of fauna samples are among the most difficult problems facing zooarchaeologists in Mesoamerica. In this paper we explore how taphonomy and archaeological sampling design have influenced our interpretations of Maya household ecology and residential site structure by analyzing the archaeofauna assemblage from Isla Cilvituk, Campeche, Mexico. We argue that models of Maya household ecology and domestic space should be expanded to include human relations with animal communities. Our results indicate that Isla Cilvituk’s inhabitants pursued a diversified subsistence strategy in which lacustrine resources played a vital role. We also evaluate how taphonomic processes vary on animal bones that are discarded across different residential spaces. Moreover, because discard of skeletal tissues is organized according to its hindrance potential, fauna remains do not move from systemic to archaeological contexts across residential spaces in the same ways that inorganic remains do. Sampling designs that neglect excavation of nonstructural contexts may be missing significant dimensions of zooarchaeological variability.

The digital resources included herein present the larger environmental and cultural context of the zooarchaeological analysis at Isla Cilvituk. Archaeological investigations were conducted from 1994-1996. The pages describe the aims and goals of the research, site location information, survey and excavation methodologies, project personnel, sponsors, and a list of publications and reports. We also include the 2006 final technical report presented to the Consejo de Arqueología, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, for readers who may be curious about other aspects of the archaeological research.

Site Name

Isla Cilvituk


900–1525 CE


Alexander, Rani T., Department of Anthropology, New Mexico State University, MSC 3BV/Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003 USA,

Arata, Sean, 5547 Nike Dr., Columbus OH 43026 USA,

Hunter, John A., AMEC Environment and Infrastructure Inc, 2456 Fortune Drive, Suite 100, Lexington, KY 40509 USA,

Martínez Cervantes, Ruth, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1350 Pleasant St., Hale Science 350;Campus Box 233 UCB, Boulder CO 80309-0233, USA,

Scudder, Kristen, , 2819 Foster Lane #F240 Austin, Texas 78757 USA,

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Suggested Citation

Rani T Alexander, John A Hunter, Sean Arata, Ruth Martinez Cervantes, Kristen Scudder. "Digital Companion to 'Archaeofauna at Isla Cilvituk, Campeche, Mexico: Residential Site Structure and Taphonomy in Postclassic Mesoamerica'". (2017) In The Archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals. Christopher M Götz, Kitty F Emery (Eds.) . Released: 2017-02-12. Open Context. <> DOI:

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