Ceramics, Identity and Regional Interaction in the Lower Amazon

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

The lower Amazon region has a diverse and complex precolonial history, with a number of cultures being identified by archaeological research mainly through study of different ceramic complexes. Some of them are among the oldest ceramics in the Americas, while others have emerged just before the European conquest. Some styles developed out of large and complex chiefdoms, such as Marajó and Santarém, while others are related to small, local settlements. Given these scenarios, recent research has been struggling to both understand the enormous diversity of ceramic styles and to differentiate local from regional and/or pan-Amazonian traits; ephemerous from persistent styles; and hybrid and flexible repertoires as both the result of and a vector for different types of interaction spheres (such as exchange networks, ethnic and political alignments, war alliances, competition for managed territories, migrations, etc.). This session will explore both technological and symbolic aspects of ceramic production, use and discard to advance understanding of the role of ceramics in identity building and regional interaction dynamics.

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  • Documents (10)

  • An Amazonian Crossroads: Results from Pilot Fieldwork on the Xingu-Amazon Confluence, Brazil (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anna Browne Ribeiro. Helena Pinto Lima.

    The mouth of the Xingu River was an important Lower Amazonian crossroads in colonial-historic times, as attested to in documentary sources. However, little is known about the rich precolumbian past evinced by extensive terra preta (anthropogenic black earth) and abundant artifact deposits. Here, we present research aimed at understanding the longue durée of the spatial articulation of cultural and natural systems. Sited at the entrance to the Xingu River, Carrazedo was a prominent...

  • Cariban Historical Linguistics: The State of the Art (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sérgio Meira.

    The Cariban language family, with between 25 and 40 languages (depending on one's criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects, and on the quality of older sources for extinct languages), is one of the most important language families in South America, together with Tupian, Arawak, and Macro-Ge. Although much descriptive work remains to be done, there are now sufficiently many good descriptions of Cariban languages to warrant good lexical comparative work, going well beyond Girard's 1971...

  • Ceramics and the Indigenous Histories of Southeastern Amazonia (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lorena Garcia. Fernando Almeida.

    Ceramics buried in dark earths guard different histories from indigenous groups, including the millenary process of occupation interfluvial and riverine areas of Southeastern Amazonia. These histories are often related to the regional settlement of Tupi-Guarani speaking groups, and the relations they established with their Arawak and Carib neighbors. We argue that some ceramic elements can be interpreted as a materialization of short or long time contacts between these groups. The main objective...

  • Fractal and extended identities: the dynamics of ceramic styles from Monte Alegre, Lower Amazon. (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cristiana Barreto.

    This paper presents the initial results from analysis of ceramic materials from open air sites in Monte Alegre, a region that has long been known for abundant and impressive rock art sites, and for the very early human occupation at Pedra Pintada cave excavated by Ana Roosevelt 20 years ago. A new research project in the area with a broader regional approach so as to explain the enormous diversity of sites, has included now sites from a more recent occupation beginning around the XII century AD....

  • Interactions across the frontier? Exploring interpretations of ceramic production and design on the upper Tapajós. (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bruna Rocha.

    Excavations at ADE sites on the Upper Tapajós River, south of the Amazon, have unearthed ceramics that point to the existence of a cultural frontier along the Tapajós River’s rapids. At Sawre Muybu (SM) and Pajaú, on the river’s right bank, both fine and coarse pottery present techno-stylistic modes – including the use of either quartz sand or sponge spicule (cauixí) temper, of applied and punctuated fillets of clay and clay nubbins – that echo elements of Lower Amazon and Orinocan ceramics...

  • Koriabo ceramics of the Lower Xingu area: a north-south stylistic flow? (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Helena Pinto Lima. Glenda Bittencourt Fernandes.

    Cross-regional and persistent ceramic attributes/styles may express networks of past indigenous societies. In this paper we present a characterization and the general context of a previously unknown ceramic complex at the mouth of the Xingu River area, Gurupá/Pará/Brazil. We discuss similarities and distinctions of these materials compared to other ceramic complexes. In a regional perspective, these ceramics show unprecedented and important data for late pre-colonial history in the lower Amazon:...

  • Long-term social interaction is reflected in parallel linguistic structures among the languages of the lower Amazon (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joshua Birchall.

    A central concept in historical linguistics is that of the sprachbund, or linguistic area, where languages of different families show shared structural traits as a result of long-term social interaction rather than shared inheritance. Through language contact phenomena such as bilingualism, calquing, the formation of trade languages, etc., this process of linguistic diffusion and convergence sometimes flies under the scientific radar, especially in regions such as Amazonia where there tend to be...

  • The Middens, the Terraces and What Lies in Between: a test for the middenscape model of terra preta formation at the mouth of the Xingu River (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bruno Moraes.

    Remarkable marks of an intense occupation in pre-Columbian times, the Amazonian Dark Earths are spread ubiquitously over a large area in the Amazon River basin. Despite being products of human interaction with the landscape, the differences between each one of them can be significant in terms of its physical and chemical properties, probably reflecting a diversity of both cultural and natural processes which they were exposed. As the increasing studies in Amazonian Archaeology the processes of...

  • The Pot Calling the Kettle Black: Archaeological Assemblages and Ethnographic Communities in Guiana and the Lower Amazon (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Renzo Duin.

    Ceramic analysis is essential to understand identity and regional interaction in pre-Columbian (before AD 1492) Amazonia. Underpinning existing ceramic analysis are time-space graphs developed and established in the second half of the twentieth century by Irving Rouse and José Cruxent (Orinoco and Caribbean) and by Betty Meggers and Clifford Evans (Amazon and Guiana). These time-space graphs are grounded in the concept of a culture-historical mosaic, aimed at fixing peoples in time and space by...

  • Traces of Carib Ancestors: The Incised and Punctate Horizon Style in Eastern Amazonia (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joshua Toney.

    The Incised and Punctate Horizon style is a widespread late prehistoric ceramic series known throughout Eastern Amazonia. A variety of subseries are known from coastal and highland Columbia, coastal Venezuela, the Orinoco, the Antilles, the Guianas, the Southern Amazon, and the Lower Amazon, including Santarém. The Incised and Punctate horizon style may represent a second wave of Carib-speaking chiefdoms spreading throughout the tropical lowlands between A.D. 1000-1500. This paper presents...