Advertisement

The Llanos de Mojos (hereafter Mojos) is a tropical savanna in the Bolivian Amazon, shaped by cycles of drought and flood and the labor of generations of farmers. The accounts of Jesuit missionaries from the mid 1600s described large villages with powerful chiefs and influential shamans in the savanna. Was this true? And what kind of economy would have supported these societies? The answers first became apparent in the 1950s with the spread of air travel that revealed artificial earthworks, including agricultural fields, causeways and canals on the landscape below. Recent archaeological research confirms that Mojos was one of several areas within the Amazon basin that had large sedentary populations.

Mojos is a research frontier where scant archaeological investigation has been conducted compared to, say, Syria or the Yucatan Peninsula, whose areas are similar. Mojos is a fascinating test case to understand relationships between politics and economics in the Amazon basin over the long term. Because of its location between the Xingu, middle Amazon and Andes, Mojos is also relevant to discussions of cultural history and the movement of groups of people across the continent. Finally, study of the region’s landscapes shows how pre-Columbian peoples acted on their understanding of the relationship between nature and culture to build their environment. This chapter reviews the physical and human geography of Mojos, describes previous archaeological research, and then discusses political and social organization, analyses of interregional contacts, and the creation of anthropogenic landscapes.

Keywords

Amazon Basin Political Organization Peach Palm Historical Ecology Anthropogenic Landscape 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Arnold, Dean E. and Kenneth A. Prettol, 1988, Aboriginal earthworks near the mouth of the Beni, Bolivia. Journal of Field Archaeology 15: 457–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balée, William and Erickson, Clark L. (eds.), 2006, Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Bennett, Wendell C., 1936, Excavations in Bolivia. The American Museum of Natural History, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Bert, F., A. Corella, M. Gené, A. Pérez-Pérez and D. Turbón, 2004, Mitochondrial DNA diversity in the Llanos de Moxos: Moxo, Movima and Yuracare Amerindian populations from Bolivia lowlands. Annals of Human Biology 31 (1): 9–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Block, David, 1994, Mission Culture on the Upper Amazon: Native Tradition, Jesuit Enterprise and Secular Policy in Moxos, 1660–1880. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.Google Scholar
  6. Bustos, Victor, 1978, Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Trinidad, Departamento del Beni. Instituto Nacional de Arqueología, Publicación No. 22, La Paz.Google Scholar
  7. Calandra, Horacio Adolfo and Susana Alicia Salceda, 2004, Bolivian Amazonia: archaeology of the Llanos de Mojos. Acta Amazonica 34 (2): 155–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Denevan, William M., 1966, The Aboriginal Cultural Geography of the Llanos de Mojos of Bolivia. Ibero-Americana, No. 48. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  9. Denevan, William M., 2001, Cultivated Landscapes of Native Amazonia and the Andes. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  10. Dougherty, Bernardo and Horacio Calandra, 1981–82, Excavaciones arqueológicas en la Loma Alta de Casarabe, Llanos de Moxos, Departamento del Beni, Bolivia. Relaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología 14 (2): 9–48. Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  11. Erickson, Clark L., 1980, Sistemas agrícolas prehispánicos en los Llanos de Mojos. América Indígena 40 (4): 731–755.Google Scholar
  12. Erickson, Clark L., 1995, Archaeological perspectives on ancient landscapes of the Llanos de Mojos in the Bolivian Amazon. In Archaeology in the American Tropics: Current Analytical Methods and Applications, edited by Peter Stahl, pp. 66–95. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  13. Erickson, Clark L., 2000, An artificial landscape-scale fishery in the Bolivian Amazon. Nature 408: 190–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Erickson, Clark L., 2006, The domesticated landscapes of the Bolivian Amazon. In Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology, edited by Clark L. Erickson and William Balée, pp. 243–301. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Erickson, Clark L. and William Balée, 2006, The historical ecology of a complex landscape in Bolivia. In Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology, edited by Clark L. Erickson and William Balée, pp. 199–241. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Erickson, Clark L. and John H. Walker, ms. The Archaeology of Landscapes in the Bolivian Amazon. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  17. Faldín, Juan, 1984, La arqueología beniana y su panorama interpretivo. Arqueología Boliviana 1: 83–90.Google Scholar
  18. Glaser, Bruno and William I. Woods (eds.), 2004, Amazonian Dark Earths: Explorations in Space and Time. Springer, Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  19. Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth Edition. Summer Institute of Linguistics International, Dallas.Google Scholar
  20. Hanagarth, Werner, 1993, Acerca de la geoecología de las sabanas del Beni en el noroeste de Bolivia. Instituto de Ecología, La Paz.Google Scholar
  21. Harris, David R., 1980, Human Ecology in Savanna Environments. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Heckenberger, Michael J., 2005, The Ecology of Power: Culture, Place and Personhood in the Southern Amazon, AD 1000–2000. Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Heckenberger, Michael J., James B. Petersen, and Eduardo G. Neves, 1999, Village size and permanence in Amazonia: two archaeological examples from Brazil. Latin American Antiquity 10 (4): 353–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hornborg, Alf, 2005, Ethnogenesis, regional integration, and ecology. Current Anthropology 46: 589–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Howard, George D., 1948, Prehistoric Ceramic Styles of Lowland South America, Their Distribution and History. Yale University Publications in Anthropology, No. 37. New Haven.Google Scholar
  26. Jarvis, Andy, Luigi Guarino, David Williams, Karen Williams, Israel Vargas, and Glenn Hyman, 2002, Spatial analysis of wild peanut distributions and their implications for plant genetic resources conservation. Plant Genetics Resources Newsletter 131: 28–34.Google Scholar
  27. Kolata, Alan L., 1993, The Tiwanaku. Portrait of an Andean Civilization. Blackwell, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  28. Langstroth, Robert, 1996, Forest Islands in an Amazonian Savanna of Northeastern-Bolivia. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison.Google Scholar
  29. Lathrap, Donald W., 1970, The Upper Amazon. Praeger, London.Google Scholar
  30. Lehmann, Johannes, Dirse Kern, Bruno Glaser and William I. Woods, 2003, Amazonian Dark Earths. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  31. Meggers, Betty J., 1971, Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise. Aldine, Chicago.Google Scholar
  32. Meggers, Betty J., 2004, Response to paradigms in paradise: revisiting standard Amazonian prehistory. Review of Archaeology 25: 31–39.Google Scholar
  33. Métraux, Alfred, 1942, The native tribes of eastern Bolivia and western Matto Grosso. Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, No. 134. Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  34. Nordenskiöld, Erland, 1910, Archaologische Forschungen im Bolivianischen Flachlande. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 42: 806–822. Berlin.Google Scholar
  35. Nordenskiöld, Erland, 1913, Urnengraber und Mounds im Bolivianischen Flachlande. Baessler Archiv 3: 205–255. Berlin.Google Scholar
  36. Nordenskiöld, Erland, 1924, The Ethnography of South America as seen from Mojos in Bolivia. Comparative Ethnological Studies, No. 3. Goteborg.Google Scholar
  37. Olsen, Kenneth M. and Barbara A. Schaal, 2001, Microsatellite variation in cassava (Manihot esculenta, Euphorbiaceae) and its wild relatives: further evidence for a southern Amazonian origin of domestication. American Journal of Botany 88 (1): 131–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Prümers, Heiko, 2004, Hügel umgeben von ‘Schönen Monstern’: Ausgrabungen in de Loma Mendoza (Bolivien). Expeditionen in Vergessene Welten, pp. 47–78. AVA-Forschungen Band 10. KAVA, Bonn.Google Scholar
  39. Ryden, Stig, 1941, A Study of the Siriono Indians. Elanders Boktryckeri Aktiebolag, Göteborg.Google Scholar
  40. Siiriäinen, Ari, and Antti Korpisaari, 2002, Reports of the Finnish-Bolivian Archaeological Project in the Bolivian Amazon. Department of Archaeology, University of Helsinki.Google Scholar
  41. Siiriäinen, Ari, and Antti Korpisaari and Antti Korpisaari, 2003, Reports of the Finnish-Bolivian Archaeological Project in the Bolivian Amazon, II. Department of Archaeology, University of Helsinki.Google Scholar
  42. Stahl, Peter W., 2002, Paradigms in paradise: revising standard Amazonian prehistory. The Review of Archaeology 23 (2): 39–49.Google Scholar
  43. Walker, John H., 2001, Work parties and raised field groups in the Bolivian Amazon. Expedition 43 (3): 9–18.Google Scholar
  44. Walker, John H., 2004, Agricultural Change in the Bolivian Amazon/Cambio Agrícola en la Amazonía Boliviana. University of Pittsburgh Latin American Archaeology Publications. Pittsburgh.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

Personalised recommendations