Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

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The History of the Research of Amazonian Dark Earths in Brazil

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_3033-1


Many of the archaeological sites in Amazonia contain Amazonian Dark Earth (ADE). Characterized by anthropogenic melanization because of the accumulation of organic materials, especially charcoal, coupled with a host of nutrients, these soils also contain a high quantity of archaeological material, mainly ceramics and some lithics, moreover, all sorts of animal and human bones, feces, and house/garden waste (Woods and McCann 1999). Through their habitation activities, these past people unintentionally put nutrients into the soil, bringing micro- and macronutrients from food, fuel, and building material to the sites of their habitations, where their use and disposal contributed to change the soil’s properties.

The ADEs are found in different types of soils, including Latosols, Podsols, Podzolic, and Plinthosols (Smith 1980; Kern et al. 2004), and generally found in the Pleistocene terraces. They are well-known for their high fertility and resilience, with almost neutral pH,...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ArchaeologyUniversity of Western of ParaSantaremBrazil

Section editors and affiliations

  • Dorian Q. Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK