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.


Amazon Basin Political Organization Peach Palm Historical Ecology Anthropogenic Landscape 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

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

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