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* Amazonia 1492

* Amazonia 1492

Pristine Forest or Cultural Parkland?

Chapter:
(p.315) 24 * Amazonia 1492
Source:
The Social Lives of Forests
Author(s):
Michael J. HeckenbergerAfukaka KuikuroUrissap’a Tabata KuikuroJ. Christian RussellMorgan SchmidtCarlos FaustoBruna Franchetto
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226024134.003.0029

Arguments still rage regarding whether the Amazon was a pristine, sparsely populated natural forest or a region of cultural forests, complete with areas of dense settlement, agriculture, and working forests associated with large, regional polities. Debates remain entrenched because of a paucity of well-documented case studies. In this study, mapping and excavation of archaeological structures document pronounced human-induced alteration of the forest cover, particularly in relation to large, dense late-prehistoric settlements (circa 1200 to 1600 A.D.). Thus, in the Upper Xingu region of Brazil, at least, archaeology and indigenous history of Native Amazonian peoples reveal unexpectedly complex regional settlement patterns and large-scale transformations of local landscapes over the past millennium. The findings contribute to debates on human carrying capacity, population size and settlement patterns, anthropogenic impacts on the environment, and the importance of indigenous knowledge, as well as contributing to the pride of place of the native peoples in this part of the Amazon.

Keywords:   Amazonia, European contact, Archaeology, Historical ecology, Indigenous history, Cultural forest, Brazil, Anthropogenesis

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