Shellfish represent an important component of human diet, especially for coastal communities, and shells are integral to a wide range of activities and social interactions. In addition to providing rich information on questions of subsistence, daily and ritual practices, and trade and exchange, shellfish remains serve as sensitive paleoecological indicators of changes in climate and environment. The exploitation of shellfish by ancient communities is a well-studied field in archaeology; however, little has been published to date with regard to shellfish exploitation—either in the past or present—in Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world. This article presents the first detailed description of archaeological shellfish assemblages from Madagascar. These assemblages were recovered from the excavation of several archaeological sites located in the southwest's Velondriake Marine Protected Area. The archaeological record of Velondriake spans the period from ca. cal AD 600 to cal AD 1900, making it one of the longest occupation sequences currently known in Madagascar. The primary objective of this article is to present the range of shellfish taxa identified in Velondriake archaeological assemblages as a baseline for future work and to offer preliminary comments on inter-site variability in taxonomic diversity, taphonomy, and Velondriake's ancient communities’ reliance on different marine habitats.
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