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Social Complexity in Ancient Amerindian Societies: Perspectives from the Brazilian Lowlands

  • Cristiana Barreto
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter discusses old concepts of evolution and social development applied to the Brazilian lowlands and reviews recent data gathered by archaeological research in three regions of Brazil, which suggest different trajectories leading to different degrees of population growth, social organization, and hierarchy. Data gathered on the Brazilian southeastern coastal shell mounds, the ring villages of Central Brazil, and Central Amazon settlements are herein presented in order to illustrate how standard and revisionist models of social evolution in the Amazon, in narrowly focusing on environmental potentials for promoting increased sedentism and population growth, have masked other important indicators of social development. More precisely, scale and spatial organization of settlements have proven to be more efficient to understand the degree of social hierarchy and inequality reached by different societies throughout diverse ecological settings.

Keywords

South American lowlands Archaeology Social complexity Tropical forest culture type Shell mounds Ring villages Precolonial Amazonia 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museu de Arqueologia e EtnologiaUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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