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Estimating the pre-Columbian population of southwestern Amazonia.

Author(s): Umberto Lombardo

Year: 2017

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Estimates of population density in pre-Columbian Amazonia have been based on calculations of the carrying capacity of the environment, generally classified as varzea, terra firme and savannah. These estimates, however, have been criticized because they overlook the fact that i) the Amazonia environment is far more diverse in terms of soils, vegetation and climate than this simplistic classification and ii) pre-Columbians increased, both intentionally and unintentionally, the productivity of the land through raised field agriculture and terra preta. Moreover, at the time when these estimates of pre-Columbian population size were formulated, most of the current archaeological data about Amazonia was unavailable. Here, we estimate the population density of the Monumental Mounds Region (MMR), in the Bolivian Amazon, based on archaeological evidence and ethnographic analogies. We calculate a minimum population size based on the amount of work needed to build all the earthworks present in the MMR and a maximum population size based on the use that modern indigenous groups make of natural resources. In particular, we focus on the use of wood: comparing archaeological data, ethnographic evidence and forest primary production

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Estimating the pre-Columbian population of southwestern Amazonia.. Umberto Lombardo. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429243)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13172

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America