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6601 - BEYOND BACKYARD GARDENS: THE CREATION OF CULTURAL FORESTS IN AMAZONIA

Prehistoric human populations of the Trombetas River region are represented archaeologically by two ceramic traditions, Pocó and Kondurí, that flourished at different times but shared the same environment, exploited the same natural resources, and constructed a cultural landscape through different social scenarios. Among the available resources, plants were of paramount importance - all native neotropical plants utilized or domesticated by preceding populations - and were managed and cultivated in different locations on the landscape.

 

Different aspects of cultural complexity were represented in the landscape at each of these locations. Cultural landscapes were constructed through everyday activities forming important social scenarios whether economic, political, or ritual. The distribution of the locations in the territory of each population formed extensive landscapes with strong cultural identities connected through integrated social networks. This identity is reflected in the distribution of vegetation whose dominant species were selected for different purposes, forming reserves that extended beyond the area of the settlement.

 

On a plateau situated in the interfluve between the Trombetas and Amazon Rivers and more than one kilometer from any identified habitation site, representatives of the population that manufactured ceramics of the Konduri tradition appear to have created scenarios related to shamanistic rituals. At the top of this plateau, material culture such as decorated ceramics and stone axes were found in a vegetational context rich in plants that are recognized as having medicinal and ritual functions. Besides being uncommon in the surrounding forest, the concentration of these plants reveals how human activities were important in creating the distribution and diversity of Amazon rainforest plants. Furthermore, it shows how human actions constructed cultural landscapes in places distant from habitation sites that not only modified the original distribution of forest species but also increased their productive potential. Past populations did not simply live in the environment, they played an active role in the historical development of Neotropical Amazonian culture.

Palabras claves: Archaeology of the landscape, Amazonia, Neotropics, Social scenarios

Autores: Magalhães, Marcos (Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Brazil / Brasilien)

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