Detecting Pre-Columbian Paleoecological Disturbance in the Lower Amazon

Author(s): S. Maezumi; Jose Iriarte

Year: 2016


Amazonia is a major reservoir of biodiversity that has been influenced by anthropogenic activities for millennia. However, the temporal and spatial scale of pre-Columbian land use and its modern legacy on Amazonian landscapes are among the most debated topics in New World archaeology, paleoecology and conservation. This research investigates pre-Columbian (3000-1492 AD) land-use on Amazonian landscapes near the confluence of the Tapajós and Amazon rivers, a region once occupied by the capital of the Tapajós chiefdom (ca. 1000-1600 AD). This area exhibits high habitat heterogeneity and a diverse range of vegetation communities. There are >100 documented Amazonian Dark Earth sites within a 30 km radius evidencing high-density anthropogenic disturbance across a forest-savanna ecotone. Sediment cores were collected for charcoal and pollen analysis at Lago Jacare and Lago Carañas. The habitat heterogeneity in this region suggests a potential legacy from high-density prehistoric settlement. Multiple working hypotheses are explored: firstly, high-density archaeological sites correspond to high habitat and fire regime heterogeneity. Secondly, sub-centennial charcoal records from Lago Jacare and Lago Carañas follow similar patterns of regional biomass burning.

Cite this Record

Detecting Pre-Columbian Paleoecological Disturbance in the Lower Amazon. S. Maezumi, Jose Iriarte. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403258)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;