Mission Statement

There are over 100,000 living species of mollusc, many of which have been important to humans.  The use of the phylum Mollusca has been documented in archaeological sites as early as the Middle Palaeolithic.  It has long been recognised that mollusc shells are an important zooarchaeological tool for interpreting various aspects of material culture, palaeoeconomy and the environment.  Shells originating in marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments are found in archaeological sites where they represent subsistence resources and raw materials for the manufacture of a diverse group of artefacts.  Cross-culturally, molluscs were collected as or made into artefacts, exchange items, grave goods, etc. with various symbolic meanings attached to them.  Mollusc exploitation is also manifested in the use of certain species for the production of dye and construction materials.  Further, mollusc shells are often used to reconstruct the season of site occupation, as well as interpreting palaeoclimates, using isotopic and other methods.

The mission of the ICAZ Archaeomalacology Working Group is the liberal exchange of data and information about the phylum Mollusca in the zooarchaeological record.  It is our goal to focus our activities on molluscs in the zooarchaeological record and to contribute to the methods and theory relevant to the analysis of such remains.  In so doing, we seek to encourage the publication of data and information concerning the use of this very important group of animals commonly found in archaeological sites.