Boiled or roasted? Bivalve cooking methods of early Puerto Ricans elucidated using clumped isotopes

Philip T. Staudigel, Peter K. Swart, Ali Pourmand, Carmen A. Laguer-Díaz, William J. Pestle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cooking technique reflects a combination of cultural and technological factors; here, we attempt to constrain bivalve cooking temperatures for a pre-Columbian Puerto Rican native population using carbonate clumped isotopes. Analyses of 24 bivalve specimens (Phacoides pectinatus) from a shell midden in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, suggest that samples were heated up to 200°C, indicating that roasting rather than boiling may have been the preferred cooking technique. More than half of analyzed samples exhibited a distinct change from modern uncooked shells, possibly reflecting different cooking techniques or the use of a single method wherein shells are unevenly heated, such as when placed on a heated surface. Roasting bivalves would not necessitate the use of ceramic technologies, an observation concurrent with the absence of such artifacts at this site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaaw5447
JournalScience Advances
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 27 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General

Cite this