The Fish and the Volcano: Human-Environment Interaction in Lake Cocibolca, Nicaragua

Lecture: ARF Brownbag | March 21 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Lucy Gill, University of California, Berkeley Department of Anthropology

 Archaeological Research Facility

My work explores human-environment interaction in the socially complex, ecologically variable landscape of pre-Hispanic Nicaragua. It employs a historical ecology conception of landscape to investigate networks of interaction centered around Lake Cocibolca, the largest source of freshwater in Central America, which continues to be an important locale for resource extraction and exchange. Archaeological work to date suggests that while there were clear differences in material culture and social practices between pre-Hispanic communities on opposite sides of the lake, there was also significant cross-lake exchange and apparent similarities in social organization. This provides a unique opportunity to explore the intersection of social and environmental variability, as well as the exploitation and management of a communal resource by multiple communities with diverse lifeways. This talk will present preliminary results from my first two seasons of fieldwork within the Zapatera Archipelago and situate this research within the broader cross-lake context. It will take a diachronic approach to human interaction by using two key more-than-human actors within this lacustrine landscape, the Mombacho Volcano and the cichlid fish, to think through broader issues such as sustainability, resource intensification, ecosystem resilience and biodiversity over the longue durée.