Modified Landscapes, Modified Views: Transformations in Brazilian Shell Mound Archaeology

Author(s): Daniela Klokler

Year: 2016


For many years, normative approaches to shell mound archaeology in Brazil have characterized hunter-gatherer-fisher (HGF) populations as nomadic groups whose mound sites represent accidental accumulations of refuse, despite the fact that almost all contain numerous burials. A shift in perspective, especially regarding the role of aquatic resources, allowed great advances in the understanding of mound-building activities. A dramatic transformation of the southern Brazilian coast by HGF communities began about 4000 years ago. During the next two millennia, the coastal plain housed monumental accumulations of shells, some reaching over 30 m in height. Research focused on the ceremonial context of mound construction and the associations between monumentality and ritual performance provides the basis for reconsideration of Brazilian shell mounds as structures that memorialize territoriality, tradition, and ancestral ties. Mollusks and other animal remains that contributed to the construction of these mounds transmit these essential messages, in addition to providing important signals regarding subsistence and ecological conditions.

Cite this Record

Modified Landscapes, Modified Views: Transformations in Brazilian Shell Mound Archaeology. Daniela Klokler. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403608)


Spatial Coverage

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