From pollen to pottery: new insights on the interplay of society and environment in South America during the last 2000 years

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

In this symposium we want to explore ecological changes in South America, and human engagement with those processes during the last two millennia, particularly around AD1000. To discuss these points it will bring together researchers from a range of disciplines including archaeology, environmental science and palaeoecology. The main aim of the symposium is to advance our understanding of the complex interaction between society, its built landscapes and the wider environment, highlighting the effects of these factors amongst each other. Strong interactions between these components have been provisionally identified in South America by interdisciplinary studies combining archaeology and palaeoecology. Key areas to be explored are the current resolution of palaeoecological data, the methodologies used to investigate human-environment interaction and the extent to which relevant disciplines can convincingly argue that human responses to change are negligible, passive or exploitative. The symposium will provide a context in which regional research projects can be re-evaluated at a continental scale, and where future engagement between investigators can be developed. This is an invitation to participant to integrate both disciplines and data with the combined objective of advancing our understanding of the interplay between of society and ecology.

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  • Documents (7)

  • The environmental context of Prôto-Je culture at Pinhal da Serra, RS, Brazil – insights from palaeoecology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Macarena L. Cárdenas. Frank Mayle. José Iriarte. Silvia Moehlecke Cope.

    Understanding the purposes and associations of burial monuments and sacred built landscapes in the Formative period of the Americas is an important research goal among archaeologists. A key step that can help us to better understand the social and spatial organisation of these cultures is determining the ecological and environmental characteristics of the landscapes within which these cultures lived and developed. Created by the Je group in south-eastern Brazil, and with more than 30 pit houses...

  • The Interrelated Establishment of Sedentary Lifestyles in Tropical Lowland South America in the Late Holocene (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eduardo Neves.

    The archaeological record of lowland South America shows the widespread establishment of sedentary life styles, associated with marked signs of landscape modification, starting around the mid first millennium BC. Such changes had a large scale, ranging from the lower Orinoco basin in the north all the way to the mouth of the Plata river in the south, albeit with earlier dates towards the north. This paper argues that this process of change needs to be understood from a continental perspective,...

  • Plants, paths and place-making: examples from the ribeirinhos and the Xokleng/Laklãnõ in Brazil (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Juliana Machado.

    The environmental management practiced by traditional societies has already been presented as a model of sustainability and an example of economic flexibility. However, little is said of its meaning for that own population, to whom it certainly exceeds its economic importance. Land is constantly transformed by human action, through selective cuttings, extraction of weeds, fertilization and planting. In this paper I will present two different examples from Brazil, one focusing on a ribeirinho...

  • Pre-Columbian monumentalism and social structuration: geospatial modelling of relative accessibility as a proxy for emergent territoriality among the southern proto-Jê (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Phil Riris.

    How did southern proto-Jê mound and enclosure complexes (MECs) in the eastern La Plata basin structure their social landscapes? MECs possess a broad geographical distribution from the banks of the Rio Paraná to the Atlantic mountains of southern Brazil, as well as a variety of configurations, relative densities, and sizes. Discussions of their functions have emphasized their implications for the perception of social inclusion/exclusion among the groups that constructed them. Archaeological...

  • Scales and visibility of human-environment interactions in western Amazonia: the case of the geoglyph builders (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Watling. José Iriarte. Francis Mayle. Denise Schaan. Alceu Ranzi.

    A debate that has received much attention in recent years is the nature and scale of pre-Columbian impact in the Amazon lowlands. While the notion that Amazonia is a "pristine wilderness" has long been rejected, several papers have proposed that human impact in western regions was more sporadic and on a smaller scale than impacts in central and eastern regions, and that western Amazonia supported sparse pre-Columbian populations. The discovery of over 400 geometrically-patterned earthworks in...

  • Technology, subsistence and territoriality: changing patterns in the middle to late Holocene on the Central Brazilian plateau (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lucas Bueno. Myrtle Shock.

    During the middle to late Holocene a series of archaeological sites in central-north Minas Gerais state, located in the southwest of the Central Brazilian Plateau, show a context marked by the presence of an expedient lithic technology, no pottery, human burials and structures made of botanical remains. These structures contained domesticated plants, such as maize, manioc, cotton, bottle gourd, squash, peanut and native plants, such as palm nuts, passion fruit, jatobá, umbu and pequi. In this...

  • Tha Archaeology of Lower Canoas River Valley (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marco Nadal de Masi.

    The results of an archaeological project in the Lower valley of Canoas River in the Highlands of southern Brazil show a cultural sistema of proto-ge grups formed by residencial bases, camp sites, cultivation fields, storage pits, hunting camps, cerimonial centers and burial mounds. Burial mounds show evidences of social hierarchy and the storage pits show variability in their size indicating diferente functions for those pite. Polen from few pite shows how the environment evolve near by the...