SYMP 3-7 - What's so human about amazonian nature? Complex societies in the early anthropocene, ca. 1000-500 BP

Monday, August 8, 2011: 3:25 PM
Ballroom G, Austin Convention Center
Michael Heckenberger, University of Florida and Christian Russell, LUECI-Land Use and Environmental Change Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Utilizing an integrated approach to data collection, ongoing research in the Upper Xingu basin of the Amazon has provided new perspective on the relationship of prehistoric indigenous populations and the environments in which they lived. Results/Conclusions

Centuries of Western scientific thought have promoted ideas of Amazonia as a primordial forest, minimally impacted by what were believed to be small, simple and dispersed groups inhabiting the region.  Recent archaeological investigations, in conjunction with studies in historical ecology have rendered these beliefs obsolete.  Far from pristine forests, some areas of the Amazon basin would be better described as highly cultivated and domesticated landscapes.  A prime example of these constructed environments can be found in sites located near the headwaters of the Xingu River from the southern margins of closed tropical forest.  Instead of simply adapting to local environs, indigenous peoples of Amazonia actively modified and radically altered these landscapes. 

Copyright © . All rights reserved.
Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.