Settlement and the exploitation of aquatic resources in the Eastern Lower Papaloapan Basin, Veracruz, Mexico

Christopher A. Pool, Tanya M. Peres, Michael L. Loughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research conducted since 2003 in and around the regional center of Tres Zapotes, Veracruz documents the importance of aquatic resources and transportation routes for subsistence and settlement over more than two millennia. Systematic archaeological survey over more than 400 km2 in the surrounding Eastern Lower Papaloapan Basin details a persistent focus of major settlements on streams and other bodies of water that would have provided an abundance of food and opportunities for water-born transport. Excavations at Tres Zapotes further indicate that exploitation of aquatic fauna was a significant component of a mixed subsistence strategy for the Olmec and Epi-Olmec inhabitants of the site, who obtained fish, turtles, and waterfowl from streams, lakes, estuaries and coastal marine environments over a range extending no less than 20 km from the center. Artifact inventories and landscape features further suggest an associated subsistence technology that included weighted nets and retention ponds in seasonally flooded areas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported in this paper was conducted with the permission of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia of Mexico, the financial support of the National Science Foundation, and the institutional support of the University of Kentucky. Pool directed excavations at Tres Zapotes and the Tres Zapotes Regional Archaeological Survey. Tanya M. Peres conducted the faunal analysis, and Michael Loughlin co-directed the regional survey. Kyle M. Mullen provided recently processed GIS data for the northern dune areas of our survey from his PhD dissertation research. We thank the numerous crewmembers from communities in our field area and students from the University of Kentucky, the Universidad Veracruzana, and other institutions in the US and Mexico. This work could not have been carried out without them.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • foodways
  • Gulf Coast
  • Mesoamerica
  • Olmec
  • settlement
  • water transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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