An Amazonian Crossroads: Results from Pilot Fieldwork on the Xingu-Amazon Confluence, Brazil

Author(s): Anna Browne Ribeiro; Helena Pinto Lima

Year: 2016


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 colonial-historic town, which sits atop a 60+ hectare precolumbian terra preta site. Results from archaeological fieldwork at Carrazedo show that precolumbian sites occur in higher frequency distributions than colonial sites, and occupied major riverine crossroads as well as inland areas. Hence, though the spatial distributions of settlements overlap, precolumbian habitation patterns exploited a wider range of ecological localities and left a more significant imprint on the landscape than did colonial-historical settlements.

This research, pilot work for the region’s first archaeological project, shows the understudied Xingu-Amazon confluence is promising for studying human-environment dynamics. Additionally, sites like Carrazedo suggest that this crossroads was equally important to pre-colonial exchange networks as to the early globalizing (1650-1900) world, and that its early-modern relevance may derive from its precolumbian status.

Cite this Record

An Amazonian Crossroads: Results from Pilot Fieldwork on the Xingu-Amazon Confluence, Brazil. Anna Browne Ribeiro, Helena Pinto Lima. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404381)

Spatial Coverage

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