Figure 2 . Map indicating the location of the three case study sites .
Nolasco , Camaronera and Pikin Guerrero , Nicaragua The Nolasco , Camaronera and Pikin Guerrero sites are situated in the departamento de Chinandega in north-western Nicaragua . These sites are located close to the Estero Real . ( Brown et al . unpublished , 163 ). Because of their proximity ( less than 300 metres ), I would argue they were once different parts of one single site . Some overlap in the ceramic material from Camaronera and Pikin Guerrero does support contemporaneity between both sites and points towards a middle to terminal classic occupation . Due to destruction of the sites , Pikin Guerrero is composed only by one large mound which appears as an island in the middle of a shrimp farm . Camaronera only yields remains from bulldozed mounds within the walls of a shrimp pond . More interestingly , the Nolasco site shows two mounds .
The ceramic material in Camaronera is finer , while at Pikin Guerrero the material appears to be primarily utilitarian . At Nolasco , however , the ceramic material that was recognizable on the surface was exclusively briquetage . Interestingly , the mound with which this material was associated had a shell layer made of oyster shells . Locals confirmed that this mollusc most likely came from the Estero Real , which is only 2 kilometres away from this site , and most accessible by canoe through a network of streams . It is unclear if the mollusc layer observed in the mound is an architectural component or if the mound is in fact a shell midden . As the site still serves today as a natural harbour for fishermen ’ s canoes , it is not unlikely that it might also have been used as such in the past .
Asanyamba , El Salvador Asanyamba is a site situated on the coast of El Salvador , inside the Gulf of Fonseca , within the estuary of Chapernalito ( Valdivieso 2006 , 119 ). In its early descriptions , the site was referred to as a “ puerto precolombino dedicado al comercio y productos del mar , especialmente sal ” ( Jorge Mejía , as cited in Valdivieso 2006 , 119 ). It yielded a significant amount of lithic materials , ceramics and shell mounds with burials ( Valdivieso 2006 , 119 ). Due to modern agricultural activities , there are little more than 20 mounds observable ( Valdivieso 2006 , 119 ). Some of the structures incorporate a base of basalt ; others consist almost exclusively of shells that were