Pre-Columbian Amazon-Scale Transformations
Start date: Jul 1, 2014,
End date: Jun 30, 2018
"The protection of rainforests and the development of sustainable land-use practices in the humid tropics are of global significance because these forests represent a major reservoir of biodiversity and are of crucial importance for the regulation of Earth’s climate. A sound understanding of the historical role of humans in shaping Amazonian landscapes and to what extent Amazonian forests were resilient to historical disturbance is critical to make informed policy decisions about sustainable Amazonian futures. However, the nature and scale of pre-Columbian land use and its modern legacy on Amazonian landscapes are among the most debated topics in New World archaeology, palaeoecology and conservation. To resolve this debate, this project will investigate the influence of the late pre-Columbian (1000-1492 A.D.) land use on Amazonian landscapes, the impact of the 1492 Columbian Encounter (CE) and its modern legacy through the comparative study of pre-Columbian land uses in four different regions of Amazonia. It will apply, for the first time, an innovative interdisciplinary approach that integrates archaeology, ethnohistory, archaeobotany, paleoecology, soil science, landscape ecology and remote sensing (including the novel application of LIDAR survey) to the following study regions: (1) the Santarem Amazonian Dark Earth sites in the Lower Amazon, (2) the interfluvial areas of the Purus-Madeira Rivers in the Central Amazon, (3) the Acre geoglyphs of SW Amazonia and (4) the ring-ditches of the Baures forested areas of the Bolivian Amazon. The results of the project have broader implications not only for archaeology and geography but for conservation and sustainable Amazonian futures."
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