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6578 - ANTHROPOGENIC LANDSCAPES IN AMAZONIA: TOPOGRAPHIC FEATURES, USE OF SPACE, AND FORMATION OF ANTHROSOLS (TERRA PRETA) IN PREHISTORIC SETTLEMENTS

Recent research in several regions of Amazonia has revealed both massive and subtle anthropic landscape features believed to be associated with movement and the use of space within and around prehistoric settlements. The features discussed here take the form of linear or ring-shaped mounds and depressions of varying sizes. In the mid-twentieth century, Curt Nimuendajú recognized that some archaeological sites in the Tapajos river region are not flat but instead, the surface is "made up of a number of convex forms a few meters in diameter each, probably representing the locations of houses" (1952, The Tapajos, Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, p. 104, translation). Nimuendajú also mentioned the presence of roads consisting of long straight depressions running from one archaeological site to another. Research has confirmed such landscape features at several sites in the Upper Xingu, Trombetas River, and the Central Amazon. Linear, horseshoe-shaped, or ring-shaped mounds that appear to have formed in a domestic context have been mapped and excavated in three sites. In general, the mounds form a ring or broken ring around a flat space approximately 10 to 20 meters in diameter. The flat spaces occur next to one another with the mounds defining or dividing them. These spaces have been denominated terraces and are particularly visible in sloping areas of sites. In addition to differences in elevation, there is typically a marked difference between the soil color and abundance of archaeological remains in the terraces and mounds. Large depressions interpreted to be paths and roads have been documented leading between and away from the terraces. Excavations have provided evidence in support of Nimuendajú's hypothesis that the terraces were the locations of houses. These advances in the understanding of the internal structure of prehistoric Amazonian settlements may help answer important questions on population size, the use of space, and the formation of anthrosols known as terra preta.

Palavras-chaves: historical ecology, anthrosols, use of space, domesticated landscapes, landscape archaeology

Autores: Schmidt, Morgan (Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Brazil / Brasilien)

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