Methodology

Small-scale fisheries are multidimensional and as such their analysis requires an inter-, trans- and multi-disciplinary approach. TRADITION will combine cutting-edge biomolecular archaeology with palaeoecology, history and ethnography to tackle our specific objectives.

Stable isotope analysis of skeletal remains offers the most direct and informative approach to study diet in the past. The δ13C, δ15N, δ34S values of bulk collagen and single amino acid of human and faunal bone remains will be analysed to reconstruct the diets of coastal populations from pre-Columbian to post-contact periods. Bayesian mixing models will provide the proportional dietary contributions of terrestrial, freshwater and marine resources.

Molecular and isotopic analysis of organic residues preserved in ceramic vessels will inform us about the use of marine resources in everyday cuisine and other activities. Ceramics were the most common form of cooking vessel in coastal South America until relatively recently, and are well preserved in archaeological sites. Comparing their use offers an opportunity to examine patterns in coastal exploitation through time. Bayesian mixing models will be used to quantify the proportional dietary contribution of aquatic resources in different vessels, from pre-Columbian to historical times.

Palaeoecological analysis of faunal remains will allow us to explore patterns in human exploitation of coastal resources during the introduction of ceramics to the coast, in the context of changing coastal environments, and with the European colonisation and urbanisation of the Atlantic Forest. By comparing archaeological and modern fish data, this approach will also provide indicators of regional marine biodiversity through time. This information will be integrated with the paleodietary study of human remains and pottery use.

Analysis of written documents will provide the regional and local historical contexts for integrating archaeological and palaeoecological records at the local and regional scale. This will also allow us to explore the nature and scale of aquatic resource exploitation in general, offering qualitative (target species, technology) and quantitative (fish catch, species distribution) elements to assess the modern legacy of these fisheries and to inform current management and conservation efforts.

Ethnographic study of artisanal fisheries will assess human-environment interactions as well as community livelihoods and resilience in two distinct small-scale fishing societies, located in São Francisco do Sul (south) and Recife (northeast). The information obtained will be analysed using a participatory geographical information system method to explore spatial and temporal changes in modern fishing communities, and then compared with historical (local) and archaeological (regional) information.