The Archaeology of Agriculture in Ancient Amazonia

  • José R. Oliver

The productivity of ancient Amazonian food procurement and production economies has received considerable attention for many years by archaeologists interested in the degree of sociopolitical and cultural complexity that can be sustained in the diverse Amazonian habitats (Figure 12.1). Theories on agricultural development also underpin arguments about the nature and implications of large-scale population movements—disaporas—attached to major proto-linguistic stocks, such as Arawakan-Maipuran, Tupian- Guaranían, and Cariban, among others, that are in turn linked to the spread of major archaeological traditions, such as the Amazonian Polychrome or the “Barrancoid”/Incised Rim traditions. The debates surrounding the issues of when and where new subsistence products and technologies show up in the archaeological record, and how these spread and changed has been a major stimulus in researching the origins and development of agriculture in Amazonia.

This chapter focuses on some on selected examples of archaeological evidence that have shed light on the rise of agriculture in Amazonia. Extensive, detailed exegesis on this topic can be consulted in the works of Piperno and Pearsall (1998), Denevan (2001), and Harris (1989, 1991).


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Authors and Affiliations

  • José R. Oliver
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonUK

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