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"Garden Hunting" in the American Tropics

Author(s): Olga F. Linares

Source: Human Ecology, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Oct., 1976), pp. 331-349
Published by: Springer
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Human Ecology, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1976
"Garden Hunting" in the American Tropics
Olga F. Linares1
Using faunal analysis, this article outlines a coastal mammalian harvesting pat-
tern involving a few terrestrial mammals whose biomass appears to have been
greater when associated with man than under "natural" conditions. Archeologi-
cal evidence suggests that these animals fed regularly on cultivated crops and
were hunted in house gardens and cultivated fields. By concentrating the supply
of both carbohydrates and animal protein, "garden hunting" may have elimi-
nated seasonality and scheduling problems. And because it artificially increased
the biomass of selected animals, it may have functioned as a substitute for
animal domestication.
KEY WORDS: hunting; tropics; faunal collections; coastal settlements; prehistoric hunting.
Students of tropical South American cultures often draw a distinction
between societies located near important rivers and societies occupying "mar-
ginal" habitats away from the mainstreams (Sauer, 1958; Cameiro, 1964, 1970;
Lathrap, 1968, 1970; Morey, 1970; Meggers, 1971). Nonriverine groups are con-
sidered to be agriculturally impoverished, as well as committed, in the absence
of fishing possibilities, to the permanent quest for easily depleted terrestrial
and arboreal game. Low population densities, small group size, settlement dis-
persal, and constant movement are thought to result from this mode of life
(Carneiro, 1970).
All nonriverine peoples were not, however, necessarily equally restricted.
Numerous Indian groups were encountered by the first European explorers along
both American seacoasts, but these have been discounted or ignored in the
literature, possibly because these groups were rapidly decimated (see Sauer,
1966). Yet archeologists have repeatedly shown that coastal settlements flou-
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, P.O. Box 2072, Balboa, Panama Canal Zone.
i 1976 Plenum Publishing Corporation, 227 West 17th Street, New
York, N.Y. 10011. No
part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
transmitted, In
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording,
or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.
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332 Linares
rished in the tropics from at least 3000 B.C. onward. The subsistence system of
these settlements must have been very different from those of inland groups. In
fact, terrestrial hunting among these groups tended not toward a broad-spectrum
"many species taken" adaptation but rather toward greater specialization and
selectivity. A prehistoric example of selective hunting by otherwise maritime
groups has been described by Coe and Flannery (1964), while Nietschmann
(1973) has discussed hunting among the present-day turtle-fishing Miskito
Indians of coastal Nicaragua.
The garden-hunting pattern I describe here from a site called Cerro Brujo
in Bocas del Toro province, Panama, is also a specialized one and selectivity is
indicated by the archeological remains. Rather than resembling tropical forest
hunting, with its particular technology, its belief system, and male-oriented
trekking activities (Siskind, 1973; Murphy and Murphy, 1974), this game-procure-
ment system was more akin to harvesting vegetable products and maritime re-
The contrast between animal biomass under natural conditions and biomass
under garden hunting is marked. Shifting cultivation, especially of cultivated root
crops, affects the' biomass of terrestrial mammals that are behaviorally preadapted
to becoming commensals of man.
As a kind of mammalian "tending pattern," garden hunting may have
taken the place of animal domestication in parts of the New World tropics. Both
patterns result in the substitution of culturally created for naturally existing
mammalian biomasses. Even now, after the introduction of bamyard animals
and cash crops, garden hunting remains a widespread and important practice.
Bocas del Toro (hereafter designated as Bocas) is a long and narrow prov-
ince located on the northwest sector of the Isthmus of Panama, facing the
Caribbean Sea or Atlantic Ocean (Fig. 1). Climatically, Bocas is wet (The Af
tropics in Koppen's classification), with two very short, relatively dry seasons.
The mean annual rainfall averaged for 5 years is 3703 mm (about 148 inches),
with little seasonal variation and with most precipitation falling at night, thus
limiting transpiration. Topographically, Bocas is characterized by low, rolling
hills and ridges that extend to the water's edge. There are neither broad coastal
plains nor many beaches.
The archeological site of Cerro Brujo is found toward the tip of the small
Aguacate Peninsula, away from major rivers but accessible to two lagoons (Fig.
2). The "community pattern" represented is that of a dispersed hamlet con-
sisting of four localities marked by shell-midden clusters. Within the hamlet unit,
the localities nearest each other were 300 m apart; the two most distant were
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in the American
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334 Linares
2. Looking into Almirante Bay from a
on the Aguacate Peninsula.
800 m
We have calculated the adult residential
at Cerro
persons (Linares
and Ranere, 1971; Linares, 1970).
principal biotopes
the Cerro
and other
inhabitants can be listed as follows:
1. Terrestrial
biotopes: (1) Ridgetops
between the 80 and 140 m contours
were used for habitation and
for small kitchen
crops. (b)
The 40 and 80 m contour was
used for swidden
flowing through
the base of the
ridges provided the
source of fresh water and were
hunting. (d) Low-lying swamps
are used
to collect
crabs and to
gather palm products.
These are difficult areas to traverse.
2. Littoral or marine
biotopes: (a)
Mangrove stands and mud flats
the shore were used for
of Ostrea, two
Arca, and a
of d7ama. This is also the natural habitat of the
caiman, which was
From shoreline to about
fathoms, or approximately 4
are coral
outcrops, barrier reefs, and
other habitats where most inshore
place. (c)
2 fathoms are found
larger pelagic fish, most of which were not
taken, suggesting
that the
sea was mostly used for
and for
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"Garden Hunting" in the American Tropics 335
The bulk of the cultural materials excavated at Cerro Brujo came from
two main midden clusters (Fig. 3), representing a brief occupation. Five radio-
carbon estimates fall between A.D. 960 and A.D. 985. A 20-30 year occupa-
tion accords well with the time span of a contemporary Guaymi hamlet.
Close similarities exist between the oldest of the Cerro Brujo artifacts and
those from a number of sites in the neighboring highlands of Chiriqui province
(see Linares et al., 1975). I have suggested elsewhere (Linares, in press) that the
Cerro Brujo inhabitants migrated to their peninsular setting from landlocked
interior habitats. This hypothesis is corroborated by the absence of molluscs in
the oldest levels, as well as by the close chronological and spatial overlaps.
A thorough survey of the Aguacate Peninsula in 1973 revealed only three
additional archeological sites. These resemble Cerro Brujo in size, layout, and
chronology (Fig. 4). Each site was made up of several dwelling localities, marked
by shell-midden refuse deposits, found within an area 1.5-2 km in diameter. Since
each loose cluster of localities was separated from similar units by tracts of un-
inhabited territory, I am assuming that each corresponded to a dispersed hamlet
(what Young, 1971, calls a caseri'o among the modern Guaymi who inhabit this
area). These ancient hamlets were usually located on the highest ridges of the
Aguacate Peninsula, at spots with both lagoons in view. Population densities over
the entire peninsula at A.D. 900 can be roughly estimated as no more than 3
persons per square kilometer.
Fig. 3. Aerial photograph of the principal Cerro Brujo shell-midden cluster in process of
excavation. (Lower trench is 10 by 6.5 m.)
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336 Linares
(CA-1,-2, -4).
Except for a deforested zone along the only major alluvial areas in Bocas
(the Changuinola-Sixaola on the west and the Cricamola on the east), the prov-
ince presents a mosaic of small clearings in the midst of extensive forested tracts.
The vegetation is typically a "dense growth of large, predominantly broad-leaf
evergreen, trees" (Gordon, 1969: 5) mixed with a few deciduous species. Before
proceeding, we must consider in some detail whether the ecology of the area
today is similar to that of late pre-Columbian times. (For places referred to in
this discussion, see Fig. 1.)
Scholars have argued quite persuasively that much of the New World
tropics was heavily populated and extensively cultivated in late prehistoric
times (Gordon, 1957; Sauer, 1966; Dobyns, 1966; Bennett, 1964; Lathrap,
1970). Some areas, however, were not, and the interfiuvial zone bordering
Almirante Bay, including the Aguacate Peninsula, seems to have been one of the
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"Garden Hunting" in the American Tropics 337
relatively undisturbed regions.2 Given the limitations of the early Spanish des-
criptions of Panama (Howe, 1974: 12-18; Young, 1970), we must turn to
archeology for evidence of population distribution and man-induced vegeta-
tional changes at the time of occupation of the Bocas sites.
The shell mounds of Almirante Bay and Chiriqui Lagoon were first de-
scribed by Gordon (1961), who concludes, in a later publication, that the
"shell collectors must have been numerous . . ." (Gordon, 1969: 67). Although
Gordon's description of the Bocas environment is invaluable, his archeological
interpretations may be misleading. Most of the shell-middens described (Gordon,
1961: map 2; 1969: map 4, p. 68) are very small. They are not to be taken as
archeological "sites" (i.e., hamlet clusters in this context), but as dwelling
localities or garbage dumps, to be exact-some of them associated with at most
a single house. (Thus, while Gordon's map indicates nine "sites" in Aguacate
Peninsula, our survey shows only four dispersed hamlets.) Furthermore, these
localities were probably occupied only for a short time. Incidentally, in the years
between our excavations of Cerro Brujo and a systematic survey of Aguacate
Peninsula, the Guaymi Indian family living in the vicinity of our site, much in
the manner of their ancestors (Linares, 1970), has shifted residence twice,
abandoning an old house and building two new structures. All this has taken
place in 3 years, within a radius of less than 1 km, and is a normal procedure
in the developmental cycle of the Guaymi domestic group (Young, 1971).
There is little evidence, then, that in the late prehistoric period Almirante
Bay or its immediate vicinity was much more heavily populated or disturbed
by man than it is now. This impression is strengthened by the palynological
record. None of the 18 samples prepared for analysis from one of the two cores
collected from freshwater bogs about 100 m from the Cerro Brujo hamlet con-
tained pollen of agricultural plants: "Pollens which may indicate disturbance,
cheno-ams, composites, Cecropia sp. and grasses are rare in the samples ex-
amined .... With a cursory look such as this it appears that there is no record
of forest disturbance by man in the Core CBII" (West, n.d.: 1), or at least no
record of major disturbances over a long period of time.
Over 6000 mammal bones were recovered from the shell-containing
(i.e., more recent) of the two occupations at the Cerro Brujo site. These, plus
other animal bones, make up 15,000 specimens altogether. Grayson (1973) has
2A careful reading of Fernando Colon's account of his father's fourth voyage in 1502 (re-
produced in Lothrop, 1950: 3-7) conflrms this point. Although he mentions encounter-
ing Indians in Almirante Bay, the only places where he talks about towns and many peoples
are in Catiba, Zobrare, etc. These places are about 200 km to the east of Almirante Bay, in
northern Veraguas province.
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338 Linares
classified the mammals into 1437 identifiable specimens belonging to 14 species
(excluding man) and then calculated the "minimum numbers of individuals" of
each species. Keeping in mind that there are difficulties with this method,3 we
can pi ceed with our analysis. Table I suggests that the Cerro Brujo inhabitants
had strong hunting preferences for certain species. Agouti (Dasyprocta punc-
tata), paca (Cuniculus paca), and nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novem-
cintus) together constitute 80.9% of all animals taken. Four large species-collared
peccary (Tayassu tajacu), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), white-tailed
deer (Odocoileus virginianus), brocket deer (Mazama americana)-are less impor-
tant, amounting to 10. 1% of the total. The rats (Sigmodon, Oryzomys, Hoplomys)
and the opossums (Caluromys, Marmosa) together add up to only 6.8% of the
total number of minimum individual mammals. The manatee (Trichechus man-
atus), an aquatic mammal, is only 1.9% of the total.4
Table I may convey the impression that small mammals were the only im-
portant components of the Cerro Brujo diet; however, any such impression is
dispelled if we convert these values to butchered weights (Table II) and add up
the values for the same species as grouped above. Conversion to butchered weights
changes the percentages considerably, and it is obvious that in reckoning "cultural
importance" both measures are needed to draw conclusions.5 The two methods
become more disparate when the smaller (or the larger) animals are compared.
This is exaggerated in the case of agoutis and manatees. Both of these animals
were probably equal in importance: the caviomorph rodents (agouti and paca)
were important for regular consumption and the manatee for intermittent con-
sumption. Whether their combined presence is calculated in individual numbers
'The minimum numbers method (MNI for short) determines the necessary number of in-
dividuals of a species accounting for all identical bone elements found in a given collec-
tion. Using the Cerro Brujo fauna, Grayson (1973) demonstrated that the MNIs vary
significantly depending on the analytic units used for the calculations. He compared MNIs
calculated on the basis of single excavation strata with MNIs calculated on the basis of the
whole site. Neither of these alternatives is entirely satisfactory. Therefore, White (n.d.),
at my request, reanalyzed the Cerro Brujo fauna and calculated MNIs on the basis of nine
"features" representing activity loci within a dwelling locality. As expected, he came out
with more accurate values, halfway between those obtained by Grayson. Nonetheless,
since both methods yielded a similar rank order for the most important species, I have
used Grayson's MNI figures based on the single strata distinctions because these figures
are published, and because I consider them to be the less distorting of the alternatives he
presents. Skeptics should keep in mind that differential bone preservation, distribution,
and destruction, to say nothing about differences in cultural practices (hunting techniques,
taboos, food preferences), necessarily affect a-ll faunal analysis-as indeed they affect all
kinds of prehistoric reconstructions.
4R. White (n.d.) recalculated the percentages for each of these species clusters as (a) 7 3.8%;
(b) 16.8%; (c) 7.4%; (d) 0.9%. He is also of the opinion that, of the two, only the collared
peccary was present in the Cerro Brujo fauna. This strengthens the thesis of this article.
5White (n.d.) would rank the most important species by butchered weight in the following
order of decreasing importance: Tayassu, Odocoileus, Cuniculus, Trichechus, Dasyprocta,
and Dasypus. This rank order strengthens the argument that small mammals were not the
only ones taken by the Cerro Brujo group.
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"Garden Hunting" in the American Tropics 339
Table I. List of Mammals Hunted by the Prehistoric Cerro Brujo Inhabitantsa
Number of Minimum
Species English name specimens numbers Percent
Dasyprocta punctata Agouti 822 204 43.8
Cuniculus paca Paca 224 104 22.3
Dasypus novemcintus Nine-banded armadillo 186 69 14.8
Tayassu tajacu Collared peccary 94 27 05.8
Sigmodon Cotton rat 28 16 03.4
Odocoileus virginianus White-tailed deer 20 14 03.0
Oryzomys Rice rat 16 11 02.4
Tayassu pecari White-lipped peccary 15 4 00.9
Hoplomys Armored rat 8 3 00.6
Didelphis narsupialis Opossum 5 1 00.2
Mazama americana Brocket deer 3 2 00.4
Caluromys Woolly opossum 2 1 00.2
Marmosa Mouse opossum 1 1 00.2
Trichechus manatus Manatee 13 9 01.9
Total 1437 466
aAdapted from Grayson (1973: Table 2, p. 436).
Table II. Comparison of the Minimum Number of Individualsa with the Butchered
Weight of the Most Important Mammals at Cerro Brujo
Minimum Butchered weights
number of
Species individualsb Kilograms Pounds Percent of total
Agouti 43.8 556 1224 16.7
Paca 22.3 709 1560 21.3
Nine-banded armadillo 14.8 219 483 06.6
Collared peccary 5.8 490 1080 14.8
Cotton rat 3.4 4.09 9 0.12
White-tailed deer 3.0 382 840 11.5
Rice rat 2.4 1 2.4 0.06
White-lipped peccary 0.9 91 200 2.73
Opossum 0.2 9 90 0.27
Woolly opossum 0.2 3.6 8 0.10
Mouse opossum 0.2 <2.0 <4.0 0.05
Brocket deer 0.4 36 80 1.09
Manatee 1.9 818 1800 24.60
aAdapted from Grayson (1973: Table 2, p. 436).
bPercent of total.
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340 Linares
Table III. Comparison of the Butchered Weights (i.e., meat without bones) of the
Terrestrial Fauna Hunted by the Cerro Brujo Inhabitantsa with the Fauna Hunted by
the Miskito Indians of Nicaraguab and the Bayano Cuna Indians of PanamaC
Cerro Brujo Miskito area Bayano Cuna
Species hunted (20-year span) (1-year sample) (14-day sample)
Agouti 16.7 Insignificant Agouti
Nine-banded armadillo 06.6 Not mentioned Insignificant
Paca 21.3 Insignificant Paca
Manatee 24.6 1.5% (Not here)
Collared peccary 14.8 0.61% Collared peccary
White-tailed deer 11.50 45.0% Not important
White-lipped peccary 2.73 50.0% White-lipped peccary
Brocket deer 1.09 0.30% Brocket deer
Tapir None 2.0% Tapir, plus two kinds
of monkeys, coati,
tree squirrels
aValues expressed as percentage of total butchered weights of all minimum number
of individuals of all species in the collection.
bData adapted from Nietschmann (1973: Tables
1 and 2).
CData adapted from Bennett (1962: Table 6, p. 42).
(1.3%) or in butchered weights (3.9%), deep-forest species such as the brocket
deer and the white-lipped peccary are seen to have been insignificant.
A further comparison can be made (Table III) between the butchered
weights in the Cerro Brujo mammal sample and the butchered weights given
for the same species hunted by the coastal Tasbapauni Miskito Indians of eastern
Nicaragua (Nietschmann, 1973; I have extrapolated the information from his
Tables 21 and 22). The last column in Table III of this article simply lists the
terrestrial mammals hunted by the mainland, noncoastal, Bayano Cuna of eastern
Panama (Bennett, 1962: Table 6, p. 42). Although few hard and fast conclusions
can be drawn from Table III, the comparative data do support the idea that
Cerro Brujo inhabitants harvested a different proportion of a faunal community
than did the other groups. The abundant species at Cerro Brujo are of little im-
portance to the Miskito Indians. In turn, the Bayano Cuna regularly hunt a num-
ber of additional mammalian species.
To summarize, hunting among each of these three peoples, the Bayano
Cuna, the Miskito Indians, and the prehistoric Cerro Brujo group, differs greatly.
The Bayano Cuna exploit the high canopy, as well as the deep forest, for game.
On the other hand, the coastal Tasbapauni Miskito are maritime exploiters,
partly as a result of the commercial demand for turtles. Although they hunt
a number of other species, they focus on only two large terrestrial mammals
(the white-lipped peccary and the white-tailed deer), which they track inland
during a specified season. In the Cerro Brujo case, a considerable amount of
game was provided by six species (Table III), but only three species were regu-
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342 Linares
larly caught (see Table I). An idea of just how much terrestrial game was being
taken is provided by the next comparison.
Faunal assemblages from archeological sites are assumed by faunal ana-
lysts to represent the products of cultural selection - samples that are biased
under human hunting pressures. Rarely, however, has anyone attempted to
measure just how far a cultural faunal assemblage departs from "normal" spe-
cies distributions in undisturbed habitats. In the present case, we can rearrange
the data on Table I and calculate the biomass of the terrestrial animals in the
Cerro Brujo collection.6 This procedure may facilitate comparison between a
"cultural faunal assemblage" and the same assemblage in two "natural," i.e.,
undisturbed, habitats (Table IV).
Table IV suggests that the biomass for every species represented in the
collection is significantly higher in our site than is their biomass in nature. The
proposition may be entertained that the product of 20 years of casual hunting
is somehow equivalent to having recovered a complete sample of all the indi-
vidual animals of a certain species found in each of two "natural" habitats at
any one point in time. This proposition is obviously very difficult to test. None-
theless, Table IV gives us some relative idea of "cultural" vs. "natural" biomass:
(1) The percentage biomasses of the three most common species in our Cerro
Brujo collection (agouti, paca, and armadillo) together amount to 52.9% of
the total. In the Surinam situation, the figure for the same species is 12.7%. In
Barro Colorado Island (BCI) it is 19.4%, assuming that the biomass for Dasypus
is more or less the same as in Surinam. (2) The collared peccary alone accounts
for 21.68% of the Cerro Brujo biomass, while it is only 3.5% of the total in
Surinam and 3.5% in BCI. (3) The biomass of white-tailed deer at Cerro Brujo
was much higher than at BCI (compare 19.5 5% with 0.6%).
If we now take into consideration the full data presented by Eisenberg
and Thorington (1973) for all terrestrial and arboreal mammalian species (the
bats excepted) in Surinam and BCI, and compare these with those for our
faunal collection of mammals, we see that at those two localities not one of the
most dominant mammals (in terms of biomass) appears in our collections. This
suggests that the Cerro Brujo people were being extremely selective, or that they
did not develop appropriate hunting techniques. They seem to have been ignor-
ing many of tl'e following common animals: (1) the two-toed sloth (Choleopus
sp.) and the three-toed sloth (Bradypus sp.); (2) monkeys of several genera
(Cebus, Ateles, Alouatta, etc.); (3) tapir (Tapirus sp.); (4) the spiny rat (Pro-
echimys sp.), one of the most abundant of the New World tropical rodents
'I have used Eisenberg and Thorington's (1973) method for calculating biomass. This in-
volved multiplying the numbers of individual animals by the live weight of an "average"
adult specimen and then calculating the percentage biomass of each species in the Cerro
Brujo collection. The difficulties with using average-weights are illustrated by the fact
that Eisenberg and Thorington (1973: Table 1, p. 152) and Nietschmann (1973: Table
20, p. 165) present slightly different live weights for the same species.
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in the American
Tropics 343
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344 Linares
(Gliwicz, 1973); (5) the coati (Nasua sp.), as well as squirrels (Sciuridae) and
raccoon (Procyon). The absence of these animals in our collection cannot be due
to simple deforestation or game depletion. As I have indicated, one must assume
that the land was at least as forested then as it is now. Furthermore, some of
these animals, e.g., coatis, would have flourished in second growth.
By compiling a list of the main behavioral traits of terrestrial mammals
appearing in our Cerro Brujo collection (Table V), and considering the habits
and habitats of the mammals that do not appear in the refuse of this site, we
can see two things. The most abundant animals present are either smallish ani-
mals that live in the underbrush or in burrows, often in the vicinity of encamp-
ments or recently cleared fields (the caviomorph rodent and armadillo), or larger
forms that are not too shy and live - or can live - in forest-edge conditions (the
collared peccary and the white-tailed deer). The mammals missing altogether or
poorly represented are either those that inhabit the high canopy (monkeys,
sloths) or those that are fast climbers (coatis, squirrels) or those that are very shy
and live in forested conditions away from man (the brocket deer and the tapir).
In short, although large forest tracts must have existed in Bocas at that time, the
Table VI. List of Fish, Amphibians, and Reptiles from Cerro Brujoa
Species Colloquial name numbers Percentage
Megalops-Albula Tarpon 6 2.2
Belonidae Needlefish 7 2.6
Centropomus Snook 53 19.3
Serranidae Grouper (sea bass) 53 19.3
Carangidae Jack 21 7.7
Lutjanus Snapper 38 13.9
Haemulon Grunt 10 3.6
Sparidae Porgies 3 1.1
Sciaenidae Drums (corvina) 1 0.4
Sparus sp. Parrotfish 4 1.5
Eleotridae Gobies 3 1.1
Kyphosus Rudderfish 1 0.4
Sphyraena Barracuda 6 2.2
Diodontidae Porcupine fish 16 5.8
Rays Rays 5 1.8
Sharks Sharks 2 0.7
Anuran Frogs 7 2.6
Crocodilian Caiman 5 1.8
Geoemyda Forest turtle 1 0.4
Chelonidae Sea turtle 19 6.9
aAdapted from a list by Wing (n.d.). The minimum number of in-
dividuals is given only for the most recent of the two occupations.
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"Garden Hunting" in the American Tropics 345
Cerro Brujo inhabitants were concentrating on species that live in forest-edge
conditions and readily invade man-made clearings.
Evidence supporting the idea that this specialization was facilitated by the
presence of alternative protein sources from the sea is given in Table VI. The
total minimum number of individual fish, reptiles, and amphibians in Table VI,
having been calculated on a different basis from that of Grayson (1973), although
on the same basis as that of White (see footnote 4), appears to be smaller than
that of mammals. But marine fishing may have been even more important than
terrestrial hunting (White and Wing, personal communications). In fact, Cerro
Brujo people were capable of taking in large, and sometimes dangerous, aquatic
organisms. The most common edible species in Table VI (Centropomus, serranid,
carangid, Lutianus) also grow very large. Missing from the collection are the
open-water pelagic fish that swim rapidly, such as the tuna and the mackerel.
The most common fish species in the collection occur inshore and can be harvested
with traps and spears. Such harvesting accords well with the absence of all fish-
hooks and net weights in the Cerro Brujo deposits. If traps and spears were the
most common fishing gear employed (Wing and Rubinoff, personal communica-
tions), then the techniques employed for getting protein on land and in the sea
were probably much the same. It is also important to note the scarcity of birds
in our -collection (less than 20 bones; Grayson, personal communication) and
the total absence of arboreal reptiles such as iguanas and lizards (Rand, personal
For inferring man-induced vegetational changes in the areas around the
Cerro Brujo encampment, and reconstructing hunting practices, we can contrast
mammalian pairs found in our collection (see Fig. 5). In the tropics, as elsewhere,
species of the same family have evolved contrasting morphologies and/or behavior
and occupy different ecological niches. Comparing the popularity of related
species in the collections is a useful method for inferring past conditions:
1. The white-lipped vs. the collared peccary: The first does not occur
(White, personal communication), or occurs in very small numbers
(Grayson, 1973), in our collection. The reason for this may be that the
white-lipped (although it travels in huge packs) is also more dangerous,
especially to hunters without guns, and cannot be caught in traps.
Further, a pack needs a large home range and probably a large forest. In
contrast, the collared peccary travels in small packs, is more peaceful,
needs smaller territories, and is used to living in disturbed conditions. It
readily eats cultivated crops. Collared peccaries also do well as semi-
domesticates of man.
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5. Most important mammal ter-
restrial species at Cerro
Brujo. (A)
Mazama americana (brocket deer);
(B) Dasyprocta punctata (agouti); (C)
Cuniculus paca (paca); (D) Dasypus
novemcintus (nine-banded armadillo);
(E) Tayassu tajacu (collared peccary);
(F) Tayassu pecani (white-lipped pec-
cary); (G) Odocoileus virginianus
(white-tailed deer). Drawings by M. H.
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"Garden Hunting" in the American Tropics 347
2. White-tailed deer vs. the brocket deer: The open brush and grassland
species (Odocoileus) was almost seven times more popular at Cerro Brujo
than the small, crepuscular, solitary, shy, forest-dwelling brocket deer
(Mazama). Because the white-tailed deer can withstand heavy harvesting
by man, it was probably one of the few large species that could be
hunted near home, in cleared and cultivated fields.
3. The agouti and the paca were hunted in Cerro Brujo in numbers dis-
proportionate to their natural biomass (Table IV). As N. Smythe has
observed (personal communication), the ratio of one species to the
other in our collections (roughly four times as many agoutis as pacas)
conforms to their natural densities; the agouti, however, is more diurnal.
Smythe's suggestion that the Cerro Brujo inhabitants must have been
using snares and traps, which are effective day or night, conforms very
well to hunting practices as reconstructed from artifactual evidence.
Furthermore, these caviomorph rodents eat all sorts of cultivated plants,
including rootcrops and fruits. They live under tree trunks and inside
rotten logs (Smythe, 1970). The perfect environment for them is the
sort found, for example, in the slashed and mulched fields of the
Guaymi of Bocas; because of the constant rains, these fields are burned
but infrequently.
For additional inferences on hunting practices, we have noted the total
absence in our collection of monkeys, sloths, and climbing species (such as
squirrels and coatis). The likelihood that the Cerro Brujo group did not use
projectile weapons (blowguns, arrows, etc.) with which to fell animals in the
higher canopy is increased by the fact that these items are missing in our ex-
cavations. But such negative evidence is inconclusive, especially since the hunt-
ing gear employed today by a tropical forest group is normally made entirely
of perishable materials.
As I have previously suggested, the Cerro Brujo people probably origi-
nated inland. Two main shifts in hunting were made once these groups migrated
to the coast. One was to a small range of terrestrial animals, the other to marine ani-
mals. The new terrestrial hunting adaptation that was devised and is represented
at Cerro Brujo is what I have called "garden hunting" because in all likelihood
it took place in and near cultivated fields and house gardens.7 In this dual sys-
tem, animal protein and carbohydrates are spatially concentrated and their
Garden hunting is still the predominant form of hunting among many inland South Amer-
ican groups, including the Guaymi and Cuna Indians of Panama. The Chiriqui Guaymi
until recently pole-fenced their root crops, and built huts in their maize-bean fields, where
they stayed overnight to hunt (J. Bort, personal communication). Among the island Cuna,
who hunt on the mainland, guarding crops is such an important function of the hunt that
a man can freely kill animals in another man's field (Gonzilez, personal communication),
while he cannot even touch the other man's crops without complying with elaborate
access rules (Howe and Sherzer, 1975).
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348 Linares
abundance vis a vis each other is regulated. By reducing seasonality and schedul-
ing problems, garden hunting was analogous to, and may have even substituted
for, actual animal domestication.
The Cerro Brujo excavations were financed by a grant from the National
Science Foundation (NSF-Gr-2846). Besides myself as principal investigator, a
number of colleagues and students participated in the project. Among them I
should like to mention Dr. Anthony J. Ra-nere (archeologist), Dr. Philip Young
(ethnographer), and Miss E. Jane Rosenthal, Miss Irene Borgono, and Mr. M'aximo
Miranda, all graduate students now. Special thanks are owed to Dr. Donald K.
Grayson, who did the initial mammalian identifications, and to Mr. Richard S.
White, Jr., who reanalyzed the data. Dr. Elizabeth Wing identified the fish,
reptiles, and amphibians, and Mr. James West analyzed some of the palyno-
logical cores. I should like to thank Wing, White, and West for permission to
refer to their unpublished reports.
This article has been enriched by the comments of my colleagues at the
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, namely Drs. Martin H. Moynihan, A.
Stanley Rand, Ira Rubinoff, Neal G. Smith, and most specially Nicholas Smythe.
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