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From the first to the last terras pretas: changes in cultural behaviour and terra preta formation in the Upper Madeira river, SW Amazonia

Author(s): Jennifer Watling ; Eduardo Góes Neves ; Guilherme Mongeló ; Thiago Kater

Year: 2017

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Summary

Terras pretas (TPs) are arguably the most visible and widespread artefacts of pre-Colonial occupations in Amazonia. Accumulated as the result of waste management practices by at least partly-sedentary populations, they are seen to mark the beginnings of landscape domestication and more agricultural-based societies starting ca. 3000 BP. On the bluffs of the Upper Madeira river, exceptionally early TP deposits were found dating more than 3000 years before TP sites in the rest of the basin. While differing substantially from later TPs in the same region in terms of composition and depositional context, some have linked these early TPs to manioc agriculture; however, the cultural behaviours and degrees of intentionality that formed these first dark earths are little understood, and mounting evidence suggests manioc domestication occurred long before TP sites appeared. We discuss recent archaeological and archaeobotanical investigations at Teotônio site (Porto Velho, Rondônia) which has pre-ceramic TP occupations dating from ca. 6500 cal. BP, followed by ceramic TP occupations (3000–500 BP), and where a super-abundance of riverine resources made it an important geographical and social landmark throughout history. We documented plant resource use and environment at Teotônio to better understand the different cultural behaviours involved in TP formation over time.


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From the first to the last terras pretas: changes in cultural behaviour and terra preta formation in the Upper Madeira river, SW Amazonia. Jennifer Watling, Eduardo Góes Neves, Guilherme Mongeló, Thiago Kater. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429499)


Keywords

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): 15173

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