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      Earliest isotopic evidence in the Maya region for animal management and long-distance trade at the site of Ceibal, Guatemala

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          Significance

          The nature of animal management in Mesoamerica is not as well understood compared with other state-level societies around the world. In this study, isotope analysis of animal remains from Ceibal, Guatemala, provides the earliest direct evidence of live animal trade and possible captive animal rearing in the Maya region. Carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopes show that domesticated and possibly even wild animals were raised in or around Ceibal and were deposited in the ceremonial core. Strontium isotope analysis reveals the Maya brought dogs to Ceibal from the distant Guatemalan highlands. The possible ceremonial contexts of these captive-reared and imported taxa suggests animal management played an important role in the symbolic development of political power.

          Abstract

          This study uses a multiisotope (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and strontium) approach to examine early animal management in the Maya region. An analysis of faunal specimens across almost 2,000 years (1000 BC to AD 950) at the site of Ceibal, Guatemala, reveals the earliest evidence for live-traded dogs and possible captive-reared taxa in the Americas. These animals may have been procured for ceremonial functions based on their location in the monumental site core, suggesting that animal management and trade began in the Maya area to promote special events, activities that were critical in the development of state society. Isotopic evidence for animal captivity at Ceibal reveals that animal management played a greater role in Maya communities than previously believed.

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          Most cited references 50

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          Nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition of bone collagen from marine and terrestrial animals

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            Strontium Isotopes from the Earth to the Archaeological Skeleton: A Review

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              Predicting animal δ18O: Accounting for diet and physiological adaptation

               Matthew Kohn (1996)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
                Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A
                pnas
                pnas
                PNAS
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
                National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                3 April 2018
                19 March 2018
                19 March 2018
                : 115
                : 14
                : 3605-3610
                Affiliations
                aCenter for Tropical Paleoecology and Archaeology, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , 0843-03092 Balboa, Republic of Panama;
                bEnvironmental Archaeology Program, Florida Museum of Natural History , Gainesville, FL 32611;
                cDepartment of Anthropology, University of Florida , Gainesville, FL 32611;
                dSchool of Anthropology, University of Arizona , Tucson, AZ 85721;
                eDepartment of Geological Sciences, University of Florida , Gainesville, FL 32611
                Author notes
                1To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email: sharpeae@ 123456si.edu .

                Edited by Melinda A. Zeder, National Museum of Natural History, Santa Fe, NM, and approved February 13, 2018 (received for review August 6, 2017)

                Author contributions: A.E.S. designed research; A.E.S. performed research; T.I., D.T., G.D.K., and J.K. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; A.E.S., K.F.E., G.D.K., and J.K. analyzed data; and A.E.S., K.F.E., T.I., D.T., G.D.K., and J.K. wrote the paper.

                Article
                201713880
                10.1073/pnas.1713880115
                5889628
                29555750
                Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.

                This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).

                Page count
                Pages: 6
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: National Science Foundation (NSF) 100000001
                Award ID: 1433043
                Funded by: Sigma Xi (Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society) 100011084
                Award ID: G20141015712606
                Categories
                Social Sciences
                Anthropology

                maya archaeology, isotope analysis, zooarchaeology

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