Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Applied Archaeology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Hepp, Guy


Oaxaca is a state in Southern Mexico with a long history of human occupation. In fact, some of the earliest village sites in Mexico are found there, dating to the Early Formative period (2000 – 1000 BCE). These early settlements provide archaeologists an opportunity to study a time period which saw increasing development of social complexity in Mesoamerica. For this thesis, I examined shellfish remains recovered from middens during excavation at the coastal Oaxacan site of La Consentida conducted by Dr. Guy Hepp in 2012 as part of the La Consentida Archaeological Project. I examine this material for evidence of paleoenvironmental conditions and their change over time, archaic land use practices, and social practices including feasting and status differentiation.

This thesis will contribute to other regional studies through analysis of material collected from these middens. I examine this shell in numerous ways, including by speciation, measurement, contextual analysis, and archaeometric techniques documenting occurrences of feasting La Consentida. In the course of my analysis, I find that the inhabitants of La Consentida utilized the nearby estuaries and lagoons as sources of the shellfish found at the site, and the inhabitants consumed them as part of feasting behavior. They further utilized some of the remains in the production of shell tools and decorative items. I will discuss two shell beads, three shell pendants, and one shell cutting tool recovered during excavations for evidence of manufacturing practices and tool use at La Consentida.