In the early 1970s shrimp farmersbegan an intensive and ecologically controversial exploitation of the coast of El Oro, constructing extensive and intricate systems of banks, dykes and lagoons (camaroneras) within which to rear large tropical prawns for the international export market. This prawn-breeding industry in some ways represents a commercial elaboration of a process started in prehistory, when the capacity of the marine and mangrove environment to support large populations of people over long periods of time is attested by the numbers and size attained by many of the shell middens. Many consist almost exclusively of a species of large flat oyster (Crassostera) now unknown to present-day inhabitants of the coast. In 1975 shrimp farmers operating near the mangrove coast to the north of the town of Santa Rosa near the Estero Guaramal, cut a deep profile through a shell mound, exposing the stratigraphy which revealed a clear environmental change, manifested by a replacement of shellfish species.
Keywords: shellfish, shrimp, midden
How to Cite:
Currie, E., (1992) “A Late Formative Period Occupation in El Oro, Ecuador: A Case for Ecological Catastrophe?”, Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 3, 30-43. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/pia.33