Abstract and Figures

Charcoal fragments from five historic campsite locations in the Galápagos Islands were identified and radiocarbon dated to investigate postulated early human presence in the archipelago, historic fuel wood collection patterns and the resultant impact on native vegetation. A variety of taxa and fuel types were revealed to be present in the charcoal assemblages, indicating geographically driven rather than species-specific methods of collection. Historic anthropogenic impact was therefore spread amongst woody taxa in the lowland plant communities, with severity dependent on proximity to campsite location. All charred remains were found to date from within the historic period, supporting the preponderance of archaeological evidence indicating that human presence did not begin in Galápagos until after European discovery. KeywordsGalápagos Islands-Human impact-Charcoal-Wood identification
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Historic fuel wood use in the Gala
´pagos Islands: identification
of charred remains
Cynthia A. Froyd Jessica A. Lee
Atholl J. Anderson Simon G. Haberle
Peter E. Gasson Katherine J. Willis
Received: 25 June 2009 / Accepted: 14 January 2010 / Published online: 16 February 2010
Springer-Verlag 2010
Abstract Charcoal fragments from five historic campsite
locations in the Gala
´pagos Islands were identified and
radiocarbon dated to investigate postulated early human
presence in the archipelago, historic fuel wood collection
patterns and the resultant impact on native vegetation. A
variety of taxa and fuel types were revealed to be present in
the charcoal assemblages, indicating geographically driven
rather than species-specific methods of collection. Historic
anthropogenic impact was therefore spread amongst woody
taxa in the lowland plant communities, with severity
dependent on proximity to campsite location. All charred
remains were found to date from within the historic period,
supporting the preponderance of archaeological evidence
indicating that human presence did not begin in Gala
´pagos
until after European discovery.
Keywords Gala
´pagos Islands Human impact
Charcoal Wood identification
Introduction
Human impact poses one of the greatest threats to the native
biodiversity of the Gala
´pagos Islands, an area renowned for
its unique ecosystems (Snell et al. 2002). Recent habitat
degradation can be attributed to increasing human habita-
tion, agricultural development, anthropogenic introduction
of non-native species, and increases in tourism and its
associated infrastructure (Boersma et al. 2005). Little,
however, is known about the history of early human impact
in Gala
´pagos. The first known human presence in this
remote island archipelago, located 1,000 km west of the
South American mainland, occurred with European dis-
covery in A.D. 1535. Archaeological evidence of surface and
subsurface earthenware pottery has led to speculation, most
notably by Heyerdahl and Skjo
¨lsvold (1956), about earlier
human habitation in Gala
´pagos. They contended that some
ceramic pot sherds discovered in coastal campsite locations
were of pre-Columbian Amerindian origin. They referred in
particular to a type of unglazed, thin-walled, red-slipped
earthenware, which they called ‘aboriginal ware’. Their
conclusions, however, have been questioned both on
methodological grounds (Suggs 1967) and as a result of
recent changes in the archaeological classification of South
American pottery (Flett and Haberle 2008; Stothert 2007).
This paper examines charcoal fragments recovered
during an archaeological investigation of coastal campsites
in June 2005 (Anderson and Haberle 2005). Whilst most of
Communicated by F. Bittmann.
C. A. Froyd (&)J. A. Lee K. J. Willis
Long-Term Ecology Laboratory, School of Geography
and the Environment, University of Oxford,
Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
e-mail: cynthia.froyd@ouce.ox.ac.uk
Present Address:
J. A. Lee
Department of Environmental Earth System Science,
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
A. J. Anderson S. G. Haberle
Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian
National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
P. E. Gasson
Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond,
Surrey TW9 3DS, UK
K. J. Willis
Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Alle
´gaten 41,
5007 Bergen, Norway
123
Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217
DOI 10.1007/s00334-010-0239-1
the site locations examined had previously been investi-
gated by earlier archaeological expeditions to Gala
´pagos,
including those of Heyerdahl and Skjo
¨lsvold (1956), our
excavations were within areas of archaeologically undis-
turbed sediments (except for material from area L, James
Bay described below) (Anderson 2005). Radiocarbon dat-
ing of charred woody remains found in context with
putative aboriginal ceramics is used to examine the possi-
bility of pre-European human presence in Gala
´pagos.
Identification of the charcoal fragments provides informa-
tion on historic fuel wood collection, that is, whether par-
ticular species were favoured as a fuel source, and what
impact this may have had on the native vegetation.
The Gala
´pagos archipelago was discovered by chance in
A.D. 1535 by the Bishop of Panama and documented visits to
the rather inhospitable islands throughout the remainder of
the 16th century were infrequent. Human presence increased
throughout the 17th and 18th centuries with the arrival of
buccaneers and whalers (Perry 1984; Slevin 1959), followed
by the scientific voyages of the 19th century including
Darwin’s famed expedition on the Beagle in 1835. Human
occupation of the islands throughout this time was largely
transient, with impacts centred upon temporary coastal
campsites established at sites with good anchorage and near
to scarce freshwater sources. Some small, short-lived set-
tlements developed in the islands during the early 19th
century, most notably on the islands of Floreana and San
Cristo
´bal. Reported early Gala
´pagos inhabitants include
individuals left behind by passing ships, penal colonies of
political deportees and convicts from mainland Ecuador,
and settlers engaged in trade with visiting whalers (Hickman
1985). Permanent habitation of most of the larger islands did
not begin until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Of the two islands examined in this study, Santa Cruz is
the more developed, presently supporting the largest pop-
ulation centre in Gala
´pagos and extensive agricultural
development in the island’s interior (Snell et al. 2002). The
earliest reported habitation on Santa Cruz is at Whale Bay
on the west coast, where historical accounts describe the
presence of some huts in the 1840s (Lundh 2004). Apart
from a few small settlements, significant permanent human
occupation on Santa Cruz did not begin until the devel-
opment of farming and fishing communities in the 1920s
and 1930s. Santiago Island is one of the largest uninhabited
islands in the Gala
´pagos archipelago. It was a favoured
base for buccaneers in the 17th century, and in the 1920s
and 1960s salt mining operations were established on the
island, but soon abandoned. Whilst never developed for
settlement or agriculture, the island’s vegetation has been
indirectly impacted by humans through the introduction of
feral goats as a food supply for passing ships.
The impact of early visitors on the native fauna of the
islands, particularly hunting of the famed Gala
´pagos
tortoises which were taken as a source of fresh meat aboard
ship and later hunted for their oil, has been well documented,
but little is known about the impact early inhabitants may
have had on the native vegetation. Historical accounts doc-
ument both the use of local animals as a food source and of
the collection of wood for fuel (Burney 1816 in Burney 2002;
Dampier 1697 in Dampier 1998), but there is little infor-
mation about the specific trees and habitats which were uti-
lized. The collection method, either preferential harvesting
by species based on factors such as burn quality or log size, or
geographically determined patterns of gathering, would have
had very different impacts upon the island vegetation.
Presently, the vegetation on the larger, more topo-
graphically complex islands of the Gala
´pagos exhibits a
distinct altitudinal zonation pattern which is commonly
sub-divided into four zones: Littoral, Arid, Transition and
Humid (Johnson and Raven 1973; McMullen 1999; Wig-
gins and Porter 1971). The woody vegetation growing
along the coastal fringe in the Littoral Zone is dominated
by four species of mangrove (Avicennia germinans,
Conocarpus erectus,Laguncularia racemosa and Rhizo-
phora mangle). The Arid Zone encompasses the dry low-
land communities, typically extending inland up to an
elevation of 120 m on wetter southern slopes and to over
300 m on northerly aspects (Wiggins and Porter 1971). The
native vegetation is dominated by cactus at the lowest
elevations, and by open-canopy forests of Bursera
graveolens. Other characteristic woody plants include
Acacia,Cordia lutea,Croton scouleri,Parkinsonia acule-
ata,Piscidia carthagenensis and Prosopis juliflora as well
as numerous shrubs, often forming dense patches of
undergrowth. Characteristic trees occurring in the higher
elevation Transition and Humid Zones include Pisonia
floribunda,Psidium galapageium and Zanthoxylum fagara
(McMullen 1999). The Humid Zone may be sub-divided
into three natural vegetation types: the endemic ‘giant
daisy tree’ forests of Scalesia pedunculata, a community
that has been severely impacted by agricultural develop-
ment and grazing of introduced animals, Miconia scrub,
and high elevation fern-sedge communities.
The aim of this study was to examine historic anthro-
pogenic impact on the native vegetation of the Gala
´pagos
Islands, specifically:
(i) To determine the age of charred woody remains
recovered during archaeological excavations of his-
toric coastal campsite locations in order to date
human occupation.
(ii) To identify the woody taxa being utilised.
(iii) To determine historic fuel wood collection patterns
in Gala
´pagos and whether there was selection of
specific wood types, geographic dispersal and pos-
sible impacts on the local vegetation composition.
208 Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217
123
Methods
Sample collection
Charcoal fragments from archaeological campsite assem-
blages were excavated from five coastal sites in June 2005:
James Bay and Buccaneer Bay on Santiago Island; Whale
Bay, Las Palmitas and Cabo Colorado on Santa Cruz Island
(Fig. 1). Sampling was undertaken at 10 cm depth intervals
where possible, but most sites exhibited little or no stra-
tigraphy. Charcoal was collected both from within defined
hearths and also from the surrounding campsite locations.
Representative samples were collected from all material
found which appeared to be in primary context and dry-
sieved to remove debris. The size and number of charcoal
fragments recovered ranged widely between sites
(Table 1).
Although there are presently no permanent settlements
on Santiago Island, anchorage had been sought at various
times there since at least the 1681 visit by Captain Dampier
to James Bay on the west coast (Fig. 1). James Bay is one
of the few coastal locations in Gala
´pagos with a relatively
dependable source of fresh water (Slevin 1959) and He-
yerdahl and Skjo
¨lsvold (1956) postulated that it is the best-
suited location in the archipelago for supporting possible
pre-European settlement. The excavation site is located on
a raised coastal terrace with evidence of multiple campsites
containing both earthenware pottery sherds, notably of
‘aboriginal ware’ and historic European remains, including
glazed and unglazed ceramics, glass, nails and other iron
fragments. Heyerdahl and Skjo
¨lsvold (1956) subdivided
the site into twelve sampling sections designated A–L. That
designation is followed here and we have analyzed char-
coal obtained from three of the sections, Areas E, H and L.
Surface charcoal samples were collected from Area E, a
narrow, steeply-sloping shelf located above the central
beach which may have been used as a refuse dump or
simply caught archaeological material sliding down from a
campsite nearby. Area H, containing a fireplace and asso-
ciated midden, is located on a neighbouring hill slope.
Charred remains were excavated from inside the fireplace
at 10–20 cm depth and outside the fireplace at progressive
depths (Table 1). Area L is a separate campsite located on
the eastern edge of the James Bay site and the charcoal
Fig. 1 Locations of the five
archaeological sites, Santiago
and Santa Cruz Islands,
Gala
´pagos
Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217 209
123
samples were obtained from a residual soil heap resulting
from Heyerdahl and Skjo
¨lsvold’s original excavation.
Buccaneer Bay is on the northwest tip of Santiago
(Fig. 1). It is another known historic campsite location
most famously occupied by Charles Darwin in 1835 on one
of his longest sojourns ashore in Gala
´pagos (Darwin 1839
in Darwin 1989). The site contains multiple hearths and
‘aboriginal ware’ as well as early 19th century remains.
Charcoal samples were recovered from archaeological
‘Test Pit 4’, located in an area containing the putative early
pottery, at 30–40 cm depth and also from ‘Hearth 2’, a
4m
2
excavation site containing multiple fireplaces, an
associated midden and ceramics. Samples were collected
from Fireplace 1 at 40–60 cm depth and Fireplace 2 at
50 cm (Anderson 2005).
Three sites were excavated on Santa Cruz Island
(Fig. 1). Whale Bay is located on the west side of the
island, a site of reported historic occupation (Lundh 2004;
Slevin 1959). The archaeological site, located on a plateau
above the beach, contains abundant ‘aboriginal ware’ and
early 19th century material (Heyerdahl and Skjo
¨lsvold
1956). The surface of the site was sampled on a 5 m 95m
grid (square A1 in the southeast corner), with test exca-
vations of 0.5 m 90.5 m and sampling at 10 cm intervals
in selected places. Surface charcoal fragments were ana-
lysed from sampling squares G4, G5, G10 and H9. The
second site on Santa Cruz, Las Palmitas, is a sheltered
harbour on the west coast, located approximately 8 km
south of Whale Bay. This site had not been excavated
previously. A surface fireplace with a midden of chiton and
turtle shells and early 20th century bottle-glass remains
was discovered there. The site is approximately 10 m long
and all of the charcoal was recovered from a small surface
fireplace. The final campsite location examined was Cabo
Colorado on the north-eastern coast of Santa Cruz, a site of
reputed aboriginal pottery discovered by the Walt Disney
Gala
´pagos expedition in 1954. Material, including Euro-
pean glass and ceramics and sherds of ‘aboriginal ware’
was collected from the surface and logged in a grid system,
as at Whale Bay, and test pits of 0.5 m 90.5 m were
excavated in selected areas. Surface charcoal samples were
collected from within and adjacent to a fireplace with an
associated midden.
Identification of charred remains
Reference material
A wood anatomy reference collection was developed in the
Long-term Ecology Laboratory, School of Geography and
the Environment, University of Oxford. Wood slices 12–
25 lm thick were taken using a sliding microtome from
branch and stem material of 29 of the most common native
woody plants on Santa Cruz and Santiago Islands. Ana-
tomical descriptions and photographs available in the In-
sideWood online wood anatomy database (InsideWood
2004) and reference slides in the Jodrell Laboratory, Kew
Gardens were used to examine other native and introduced
taxa occurring in Gala
´pagos. Although branch wood is
Table 1 Charcoal fragment number and size distribution by collection site
Site Site location Sampling area Depth (cm) Fragment size
NR S M L Total
James Bay (Santiago Is.) S 01403700
W905104500
Area E Surface 3 3
Area H, Test Pit 2, outside fireplace 0–10 1 1
Area H, Test Pit 2, outside fireplace 10–20 3 3
Area H, Test Pit 2, inside fireplace 10–20 20 20
Area L Surface 15 15
Buccaneer Bay (Santiago Is.) S 01001400
W904903100
Test Pit 4 30–40 0 0 1 1
Hearth 2, Fireplace 1 40–60 5 8 1 14
Hearth 2, Fireplace 2 50 1 4 0 5
Whale Bay (Santa Cruz Is.) S 03601100
W903201100
Square G4 Surface 0 0 3 3
Square G5 Surface 3 17 2 22
Square G10 Surface 0 0 1 1
Square H9 Surface 0 0 1 1
Cabo Colorado (Santa Cruz Is.) S 03405300
W901002100
Inside fireplace Surface 2 3 0 5
Outside fireplace Surface 9 3 9 0 21
Las Palmitas (Santa Cruz Is.) S 04004500
W903201000
Consolidated site collection Surface 1 4 10 15
Fragment size distribution categories: small ‘S’ (\4 mm diameter), medium ‘M’ (4–10 mm), large ‘L’ ([10 mm). NR fragment size not recorded
210 Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217
123
known to be more anatomically variable than that of tree
boles (Schweingruber 1990), collection restrictions neces-
sitated its use and samples were shown to exhibit a full
range of material from bark to pith. Tissue sections along
three axes (transverse, tangential and radial) were stained
using safranin and astrablue, washed with ethanol and
xylene, fixed with Canada balsam and dried overnight at
60C. Anatomical characteristics were described for each
species according to the International Association of Wood
Anatomists (IAWA) standard (1989). The complete IAWA
list of anatomical features and sectional view photographs
of each species have been included in the InsideWood
database (InsideWood 2004) and may be accessed at
http://insidewood.lib.ncsu.edu/search.
Charcoal identification
Charcoal identification follows the methodology of Leney
and Casteel (1975). Fragments were split with a razor blade
to obtain transverse, tangential and radial sections and
examined under a reflected light microscope at 950, 9100,
9200 and 9500 magnification.
Radiocarbon dating
Nine charcoal samples obtained from four of the analysed
sites were radiocarbon dated to determine the age of the
woody material and the inferred date of campsite occupa-
tion (Table 2). Calendar ages were calibrated based on the
SHCal04 dataset (McCormac et al. 2004) and calculated at
the 2rlevel using the probability distribution method,
CALIB 5.0.1 (Stuiver and Reimer 1993). Median calendar
ages and standard deviations are based on a 95% minimum
probability of occurrence and are rounded to the nearest
5 year interval. In two cases, individual fragments were too
small for dating and two fragments had to be combined
within the radiocarbon sample (fireplace 1, hearth 2 at
Buccaneer Bay; and Cabo Colorado, surface collection,
outside the fireplace). In each case, two charred fragments
of the same taxon exhibiting similar characteristics (col-
lection position, size, colour, patterning and other physical
qualities, that is, powdery or glassy, hard or flaky) were
selected to increase the likelihood that the remains had
come from the same original source material.
Results
A total of 127 charcoal fragments were examined
(Table 1). 15 fragments were found to be too degraded for
analysis. 11 distinct wood anatomical types (Table 3;
Fig. 2) were identified from the remaining 107 specimens:
six positive and one provisional species identifications
were made, whilst four distinct types remained unidenti-
fied. One of these was tentatively classified as Chiococca
alba, but the identification could not be positively con-
firmed from only the single fragment recovered. The effect
of carbonization is known to distort some wood anatomical
features, but most major features are generally preserved
well enough to allow taxonomic identification (Rossen and
Olsen 1985). Anatomical features observed in the charcoal
samples for each identified taxon are summarised in
Table 4. Three of the four remaining unidentified wood
Table 2 Age determinations
Site Sampling location Fragment ID Species Lab ID
14
C age
(yr B.P.)
Calendar age
(cal. yr A.D.)
James Bay E, surface JAM-E_1 Acacia/Prosopis OxA-17300 135 ±24 1825 ±125
H, TP2, FP, 10–20 cm JAM-HFIR_1 Monocot OxA-17298 1.28 ±003 Modern
a
L, surface JAM-L_9 Unidentified species 1
(Chiococca alba cf.)
OxA-17299 201 ±25 1805 ±145
Buccaneer Bay TP4, 30–40 cm BUC-TP4_1 Unidentified species 2 OxA-17301 230 ±25 1725 ±80
Hrth 2, FP1, 40–60 cm BUC-H2A1B1_9/4 Acacia/Prosopis OxA-17302 186 ±25 1810 ±140
Whale Bay G4, surface WHL-G4_1 Acacia/Prosopis OxA-17294 232 ±25 1725 ±80
H9, surface WHL-H9_1 Piscidia carthagenensis OxA-17295 326 ±25 1575 ±75
Cabo Colorado FP, surface COL-FIR_1 Acacia/Prosopis OxA-17296 146 ±25 1820 ±130
Surface COL-OUT_3/11 Unidentified species 3 OxA-17297 112 ±25 1825 ±125
Radiocarbon dates are reported as conventional radiocarbon years B.P. (A.D. 1950). Calibrated ages are based on the SHCal04 dataset (Mc-
Cormac et al. 2004) and calculated at the 2rlevel. Median calendar ages and standard deviations are based on a 95% minimum probability of
occurrence and are rounded to the nearest 5 year interval
TP test pit, FP fireplace, Hrth hearth
a
Sample fragment JAM-HFIR_1 is beyond the range of the radiocarbon calibration curve and can therefore only be identified as modern (post-
1950) material
Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217 211
123
types were found not to be abundant within the campsite
assemblages, with only one or two fragments present at
single locations (Table 3). A fourth unidentified taxon,
however, was recovered from two separate archaeological
sites on Santa Cruz, Cabo Colorado and Las Palmitas, with
11 fragments of this type comprising the entire Las
Palmitas assemblage. The charcoal fragments of this type
exhibit short uniseriate rays (tangential longitudinal view),
square and upright ray cells (radial longitudinal view),
vessels both solitary and in pairs (transverse view), scanty
paratracheal and in places aliform and confluent paren-
chyma (transverse view), and alternate intervessel pitting
(tangential longitudinal view). It is likely that this species
may be Croton scouleri, an endemic small tree or shrub the
most common variety of which, Croton scouleri var.
scouleri, is found in the arid lowlands throughout the
Gala
´pagos archipelago, although a positive identification
could not be made from the charred remains.
Three charcoal types were identified to be woody
material derived from species of large trees, Bursera cf.
graveolens, an Arid Zone dominant, Piscidia carthagen-
ensis and Cinchona pubescens, an introduced species.
Abundant charcoal from a Mimosoid legume was also
revealed (Fig. 2), but could not be identified to species
level. This is likely to be from either Acacia or Prosopis,
both of which are common small trees of the coastal Arid
Zone. Charcoal fragments of a number of shrubs were
found, including Vallesia glabra,Scutia spicata var.
pauciflora cf. and possibly also Chiococca alba,in
addition to the charred remains of an unidentified
monocot.
The radiocarbon results show that all of the dated
charcoal fragments, apart from one sample at James Bay,
originated during the historic period, with median cali-
brated ages ranging between A.D. 1575 and A.D. 1825
(Table 2). The James Bay sample, a charcoal piece exca-
vated from a fireplace within sampling Area H (fragment
JAM-HFIR_1), was found to be beyond the range of the
radiocarbon calibration curve and can therefore only be
identified as modern (post-1950) material (Table 2). This
sample is one of eight fragments of monocot recovered
from the James Bay site (Table 3). The charred remains are
probably the result of recent use of the campsite and
burning of either an introduced taxon or imported material.
All of the radiocarbon samples in the campsite assemblages
post-date European discovery of the Gala
´pagos Islands.
The full range of calibrated ages of the charcoal samples,
conservatively calculated at the 2rlevel with a 95%
Table 3 Charcoal fragment
identifications Site Sampling location Number of pieces Species
James Bay E, surface 3 Acacia/Prosopis
H, Test Pit 2, fireplace, 10–20 cm 10 Bursera cf. graveolens
8 Monocot
2Scutia spicata cf.
L, surface 7 Cinchona pubescens
7Acacia/Prosopis
1 Unidentified species 1
(Chiococca alba cf.)
Buccaneer Bay Test Pit 4, 30–40 cm 1 Unidentified species 2
Hearth 2, fireplace 1, 40–60 cm 13 Acacia/Prosopis
1Piscidia carthagenensis
Hearth 2, fireplace 2, 50 cm 5 Degraded, but likely
Mimosoid legume
Whale Bay G4, surface 3 Acacia/Prosopis
G5, surface 20 Piscidia carthagenensis
1Acacia/Prosopis
G10, surface 1 Acacia/Prosopis
H9, surface 1 Piscidia carthagenensis
Cabo Colorado Fireplace, surface 2 Acacia/Prosopis
Surface 6 Acacia/Prosopis
3Piscidia carthagenensis
2Vallesia glabra
2 Unidentified species 3
2 Unidentified species 4
Las Palmitas Surface 11 Unidentified species 4
212 Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217
123
probability of occurrence, range between A.D. 1500 and A.D.
1950 (Fig. 3).
Discussion
The charcoal identifications reveal the variety of taxa uti-
lized as fuel wood at the archaeological sites (Table 3). Las
Palmitas was the only site containing charred remains
derived from only a single taxon. The other sites had more
diverse charcoal assemblages, with up to six taxa shown to
be present at James Bay. Acacia/Prosopis was the most
common type utilized, with charred remains present at five
of the six sites. The assemblages were shown to contain a
mix of types of burned material, with charcoal of larger
trees such as Bursera graveolens and Piscidia cartha-
genenis, smaller common tree taxa such as Acacia/Proso-
pis, and shrubby species including Scutia spicata and
Vallesia glabra.
The charcoal identification reveals a general ‘least
effort’ pattern of firewood collection in Gala
´pagos. The
remains of eleven distinct taxa reveal the burning of a
range of common lowland trees and woody shrubs. There
do not appear to be any particularly favoured types, the
selective harvesting of which could have led historically to
observable impacts on heavily utilized native species.
Rather than species-based impacts, anthropogenic effects
on the native Gala
´pagos vegetation would instead have
been geographical, centred around historic campsite loca-
tions. Acacia/Prosopis, both good burning and abundant
Arid Zone taxa, was the most common type discovered in
the charcoal assemblages. Evidence for the burning of
larger trees such as Bursera graveolens and Piscidia
carthagenensis was also revealed in the charred remains,
although these species were less dominant in the campsite
assemblages than might have been expected. The use of
shrubs is probably under-represented in the charcoal
remains as a result of the more complete combustion of
smaller woody material. The presence of charcoal of small
trees and shrubs supports the geographic collection
hypothesis, rather than a bias towards larger trees to burn as
logs. There is no evidence of more distant collection from
the interior of the islands.
The small amount of Bursera wood that was found in
the charcoal assemblages from throughout the island
campsites is surprising, considering the ubiquitous distri-
bution and large log size of this Arid Zone tree. In fact,
Bursera charcoal was only discovered at one site, James
Bay, at which it accounted for only 24% of the total
assemblage (Table 3). The size and availability of Bursera
would make it one of the more likely taxa for collection, if
a concerted effort was to be made to harvest larger fireplace
logs. Bursera is known to be a favoured firewood in
mainland Ecuador, both because it burns well and also as a
result of its mosquito-repelling properties (Jaramillo, per-
sonal communication). The lack of charred Bursera
remains in the Gala
´pagos assemblages indicates that the
sites were only used as temporary camps where firewood
collection was restricted to local, expedient gathering,
rather than the targeted harvesting of larger logs as might
be expected with longer-term habitation.
Charred remains of Piscidia carthagenensis were dis-
covered at sites on both Santa Cruz and Santiago
(Table 3). Piscidia is a native of Santa Cruz and San
Cristo
´bal islands in the archipelago, as well as Central
and South America, but it is not known to occur on
Santiago. Whilst found in relative abundance in the
campsite assemblages of the Santa Cruz Island sites, the
sample recovered at Buccaneer Bay on Santiago is a
single, small fragment. Piscidia is an extremely hard
wood favoured for housing and boat construction in
Gala
´pagos (McMullen 1999). The common local use of
the wood, coupled with discovery of only the single
charred piece, suggests that the Piscidia remains found on
Santiago are probably the result of the burning of ship’s
timbers or other transported wooden products which had
been brought over from a neighbouring island or the
mainland, although the possibility that it may represent
evidence of the past local occurrence of the species on
Santiago cannot be discounted.
Burning of the non-native species Cinchona pubescens
was revealed in the surface campsite collection at James
Bay (Table 3). Cinchona is an escaped cultivar introduced
to Gala
´pagos ca. 1946 (Hamann 1974), which has since
spread throughout the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. The
presence of Cinchona charcoal at James Bay on Santiago
Island, where the species does not occur, indicates both the
transport of an object or fuel wood for burning and also the
likelihood of more recent use of the campsite. This is
supported by the radiocarbon evidence which revealed
burning at James Bay during the modern period (Table 2).
The charcoal could have originated from recent use of the
campsite by goat hunters, park wardens and scientists (Tye,
personal communication).
The range of probable ages for the nine radiocarbon
dated charcoal fragments (Fig. 3) demonstrates that all
originated within the historic period. Calendar age deter-
minations were calculated using methodologies providing
a high probability of inclusion within the calibrated per-
iod, thus ensuring accuracy, but also leading to increasing
age range estimates. Most of the uncalibrated
14
C dates
fall within the modern plateau for radiocarbon dating,
leading to decreased precision in the calibration (Table 2).
An additional factor in dating charcoal is that the frag-
ments being dated may have come from large trees, thus
possibly yielding dates of origination which may be
Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217 213
123
Fig. 2 Microscopic view of charcoal fragments of the seven iden-
tified and four unidentified taxa discovered within the archaeological
remains. aVallesia glabra (TS, 9200); bBursera cf. graveolens (TS,
9100); cLeguminosae subfamily Mimosoideae (TS, 9100); d
Piscidia carthagenensis (TS, 9100); eScutia spicata cf. (TLS,
9200); fCinchona pubescens (TS, 9100);
214 Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217
123
Fig. 2 continued gmonocot (TS, 9100); hunidentified taxon 1
(Chiococca alba cf.) (TS, 9100); iunidentified taxon 2 (TS, 9100);
junidentified taxon 3 (TS, 9100); kunidentified taxon 4 (TS, 9100);
lunidentified taxon 4 (RLS, 9200). TS transverse section, TLS
tangential longitudinal section, RLS radial longitudinal section;
(images: J.A. Lee)
Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217 215
123
several centuries older than the actual burn period. The
oldest charcoal remains revealed by this study (Whale
Bay, grid square H9) were from a sample of the large tree
species Piscidia carthagenensis dating to between A.D.
1500 and 1650, still predominantly within the historic
period. Despite the combination of factors tending to
increase calibrated age range estimates, the campsite
assemblage results remain remarkably similar—clearly
demonstrating that the burning took place within the
historic period.
The sites analysed contained ‘aboriginal ware’ in
association with the dated charcoal assemblages. As the
sites consist largely of remains lying on the surface, or
within the uppermost sediments, the association of pottery
and charcoal was generally surficial, and therefore not as
strong as that from within sealed stratigraphy. However,
where samples were sealed stratigraphically, as at James
Bay and Buccaneer Bay, the radiocarbon dates were
equally young. The radiocarbon results contradict infer-
ences of pre-European occupation drawn from typological
analysis of pottery by Heyerdahl and Skjo
¨lsvold (1956)
and support the conclusion developed upon the prepon-
derance of recent archaeological data (Anderson 2005;
Stothert 2007; Flett and Haberle 2008) that human
impact did not begin in Gala
´pagos until after European
discovery.
Table 4 Anatomical features of the seven identified charcoal types
Family Species Anatomical features (TS, TLS, RLS views) References
Apocynaceae Vallesia glabra Numerous (40–100 per mm
2
) small vessels (\50 lm)
Vessels mostly solitary
Axial parenchyma diffuse and diffuse-in-aggregates
Rays 1–2 (3) cells wide
4–12 rays/mm
Ray cells upright and/or square
Burseraceae Bursera cf. graveolens Vessels: 100–150 lm, typically single or in pairs Detienne and Jacquet (1983)
Ground tissue fibres very thin-walled
Axial parenchyma absent or rare (TS, TLS, RLS)
Radial canals
Heterocellular rays with procumbent body ray cells and
1–4 rows of square/upright marginal cells
Septate fibres present
Vessel-ray pits with much reduced borders
Leguminosae Subfamily: Mimosoideae
(likely Acacia or Prosopis)
Vessels: 100–150 lm, single and in pairs Detienne and Jacquet (1983),
Neumann et al. (2001), Evans
et al. (2006)
Axial parenchyma aliform and confluent, often very
abundant
Long chains of chambered parenchyma cells
with prismatic crystals
Leguminosae Subfamily: Papilionoideae,
Tribe: Millettieae,
Piscidia carthagenensis
Vessels: 50–100 lm, single or in pairs Detienne and Jacquet (1983),
Gasson et al. (2004)
Alternating tangential bands of fibres and axial parenchyma
Prominent storied parenchyma
Short rays storied, taller rays over two or more storeys
Rhamnaceae Scutia spicata cf. Vessels: 30–60 lm, radial groups of 2–4
Axial parenchyma scanty paratracheal
Ray cells square and upright
Rubiaceae Cinchona pubescens Vessels: narrow, diffuse arrangement Detienne and Jacquet (1983)
Minute pitting
Strongly heterocellular rays with procumbent cells in the
wider parts (to c.4 cells wide) and long tails (TLS) i.e. many
rows of upright cells (RLS)
Monocot Scattered vascular bundles composed of 3 large vessels,
embedded within dense ground tissue
TS transverse view, TLS tangential longitudinal view, RLS radial longitudinal view
See the InsideWood database (http://insidewood.lib.ncsu.edu/search) for the IAWA anatomical features descriptions and sectional view pho-
tographs of modern reference material
216 Veget Hist Archaeobot (2010) 19:207–217
123
Acknowledgments This research was funded by the UK Natural
Environment Research Council (grant NE/C510667/1 awarded to K.J.
Willis and C.A. Froyd) and by the Australian Research Council (grant
DP0449560 awarded to S.G. Haberle and A.J. Anderson). The authors
would like to thank the Charles Darwin Research Station and the
Gala
´pagos National Park Service for their support of the project. The
research was carried out under Autorizacion No. 002.SRL.INPC.2005
issued by the Instituto Nacional Patrimonio Cultural, Ecuador, to
whom thanks are also due We gratefully acknowledge the contribu-
tions of additional archaeological colleagues in the 2005 expedition;
Rosanne Anderson, Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Karen Stothert, Paul
Wallin and Ce
´sar Vientamille and also Julia Sonsin Oliveira for
assistance in charcoal identification. We would like to thank Pim van
der Knaap, Alan Tye and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful
comments on the manuscript.
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