Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Was there ever a Neolithic in the Neotropics? Plant familiarisation and biodiversity in the Amazon

  • Carlos Fausto (a1) and Eduardo G. Neves (a2)
Abstract

The Amazon is one of the few independent centres of plant domestication in the world, yet archaeological and ethnographic evidence suggest a relatively recent transition to agriculture there. In order to make sense of this time lag, the authors propose the use of the concept of ‘familiarisation’ instead of ‘domestication’, to explain Amazonian plant management, and the long-term relationship between plants and people in the region. This concept allows them to cast a fresh eye over ancient and contemporary patterns of plant cultivation and management that may be distinct to the ones described for the Old World.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence (Email: edgneves@usp.br)
References
Hide All
Aceituno, J. & Loaiza, N.. 2014. Early and Middle Holocene evidence for plant use and cultivation in the Middle Cauca River Basin, Cordillera Central (Colombia). Quaternary Science Reviews 86: 4962. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.12.013
Arroyo-Kalin, M. 2010. The Amazonian Formative: crop domestication and anthropogenic soils. Diversity 2: 473504. https://doi.org/10.3390/d2040473
Balée, W. 1989. The culture of Amazonian forests, in Posey, D.A. & Balée, W. (ed.) Resource management in Amazonia: indigenous and folk strategies (Advances in Economic Botany 7): 121. New York: The New Botanical Garden.
Barton, H. & Denham, T.. 2016. Vegecultures and the social-biological transformations of plants and people. Quaternary International 489: 1725. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.06.031
Carneiro da Cunha, M. 2015. Traditional people, collectors of diversity. Paper presented at the ‘Anthropological Visions of Sustainable Futures’ conference, University College London, 13 February 2015.
Clement, C., de Cristo-Araújo, M., Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge, G., Pereira, A. & Picanço-Rodrigues, D.. 2010. Origin and domestication of native Amazonian crops. Diversity 2(1): 72106. https://doi.org/10.3390/d2010072
Clement, C., Denevan, W., Heckenberger, M., Junqueira, A., Neves, E., Woods, W. & Teixeira, W.. 2015. The domestication of Amazonia before European conquest. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282(1812). https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.0813
Costa, L. 2017. The owners of kinship: asymmetrical relations in indigenous Amazonia. Chicago (IL): University of Chicago Press & Hau.
Denevan, W. 1992. Stone vs metal axes: the ambiguity of shifting cultivation in prehistoric Amazonia. Journal of the Steward Anthropological Society 20(1–2): 153–65.
de Oliveira, J.C. 2006. Classificações em cena. Algumas formas de classificação das plantas cultivadas pelos Wajãpi do Amapari (AP). Unpublished MSc dissertation, Universidade de São Paulo.
Descola, P. 1986. La nature domestique: symbolisme et praxis dans l’écologie des Achuar. Paris: Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.
Descola, P. 1994. Pourquoi les Indiens d'Amazonie n'ont-ils pas Domestiqué le Pécari? Genéalogie des objets et anthropologie de l'objectivation, in Latour, B. & Lemonnier, P. (ed.) De la préhistoire aux missiles balistiques: 329–44. Paris: La Découverte.
Descola, P. 2005. Par-delà nature et culture. Paris: Gallimard.
Dickau, R., Bruno, M., Iriarte, J., Prümers, H., Betancourt, C. J., Holst, I. & Mayle, F.. 2012. Diversity of cultivars and other plant resources used at habitation sites in the Llanos de Mojos, Beni, Bolivia: evidence from macrobotanical remains, starch grains, and phytoliths. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 357–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2011.09.021
Elias, M., Rival, L. & McKey, D.. 2000. Perception and management of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) diversity among Makushi Amerindians of Guyana (South America). Journal of Ethnobiology 20: 239–65.
Emperaire, L. 2005. A biodiversidade agrícola na Amazônia brasileira: recurso e patrimônio. Revista do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional 32: 3143.
Emperaire, L., Pinton, F. & Second, G.. 1998. Gestion dynamique de la diversité variétale du manioc en Amazonie du Nord-Ouest. Natures Sciences Sociétés 6: 2742. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1240-1307(98)80006-X
Fausto, C. 1999. Of enemies and pets: warfare and shamanism in Amazonia. American Ethnologist 26: 933–56. https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.1999.26.4.933
Fausto, C. 2007. Feasting on people: cannibalism and commensality in Amazonia. Current Anthropology 48: 497530. https://doi.org/10.1086/518298
Fausto, C. 2012a. Warfare and shamanism in Amazonia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fausto, C. 2012b. Too many owners: ownership and mastery in Amazonia, in Brightman, M., Grotti, V. & Ulturgasheva, O. (ed.) Shamanism in rainforest and tundra: 85105. Oxford: Berghahn.
Ford, J. 1969. A comparison of formative cultures in the Americas: diffusion or the psychic unity of mankind? (Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 11). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Ford, R. 1985. The process of food production in prehistoric North America, in Ford, R. (ed.) Prehistoric food production in North America: 118. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Grobman, A., Bonavia, D., Dillehay, T., Piperno, D., Iriarte, J. & Holst, I.. 2012. Preceramic maize from Paredones and Huaca Prieta, Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109: 1755–59. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1120270109
Guimarães, P., Galetti, M. & Jordano, P.. 2008. Seed dispersal anachronisms: rethinking the fruits extinct megafauna ate. PLoS One 3: e1745. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0001745
Hermenegildo, T., O'connell, T., Guapindaia, V. & Neves, E.. 2017. New evidence for subsistence strategies of late pre-colonial societies of the mouth of the Amazon based on carbon and nitrogen isotopic data. Quaternary International 448: 139–49.
Hugh-Jones, C. 1979. From the Milk River: spatial and temporal processes in Northwest Amazonia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.18542/amazonica.v4i1.879
Iriarte, J., Glaser, B., Watling, J., Wainwright, A., Birk, J., Renard, D., Rostain, S. & McKey, D.. 2010. Late Holocene Neotropical agricultural landscapes: phytolith and stable carbon isotope analysis of raised fields from French Guianan coastal savannahs. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 2984–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.06.016
Killion, T. 2013. Nonagricultural cultivation and social complexity: the Olmec, their ancestors, and Mexico's southern Gulf Coast lowlands. Current Anthropology 54: 569606. https://doi.org/10.1086/673140
Lathrap, D. 1977. Our father the cayman, our mother the gourd: Spinden revisited, or a unitary model for the emergence of agriculture in the New World, in Reed, C. (ed.) Origins of agriculture: 713–52. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110813487.713
Levis, C. et al. 2017. Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition. Science 355: 925–31. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aal0157
Lévi-Strauss, C. 1952. The use of wild plants in tropical South America. Economic Botany 6: 252–70. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02985068
Lévi-Strauss, C. 1991. Histoire de Lynx. Paris: Plon.
Maizza, F. 2014. Sobre as crianças-planta: o cuidar e o seduzir no parentesco Jarawara. Mana 20: 491518. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-93132014000300003
Marcos, J. 2015. Un sitio llamado Real Alto. Quito: Editora de la Universidad Internacional del Ecuador.
Miller, T. 2015. Bio-sociocultural aesthetics: indigenous Ramkokamekra-Canela gardening practices and varietal diversity maintenance in Maranhão. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Oxford.
Moraes, C. 2015. O determinismo agrícola na arqueologia amazônica. Estudos Avançados 29(83): 2543. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0103-40142015000100004
Morcote-Ríos, G. & Bernal, R.. 2001. Remains of palms (Palmae) at archaeological sites in the New World. The Botanical Review 67: 309–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02858098
Morim de Lima, A. 2016. Brotou batata para mim. Cultivo, Gênero e Ritual entre os Krahô (TO, Brasil). Unpublished PhD dissertation, IFCS-Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.
Neves, E.G. 2007. El Formativo que nunca terminó: la larga historia de estabilidad en las ocupaciones humanas de la Amazonía central. Boletín de Arqueología PUCP 11: 117–42.
Neves, E.G. 2013. Was agriculture a key productive activity in pre-Colonial Amazonia? The productive basis for social equality, in Brondízio, E. & Moran, E. (ed.) The Central Amazonia human-environment: current and future directions: 371–88. New York: Springer.
Neves, E.G., Guapindaia, V., Lima, H.P., Costa, B. & Gomes, J.. 2014. A tradição Pocó-Açutuba e os primeiros sinais visíveis de modificações de paisagens na calha do Amazonas, in Rostain, S. (ed.) Amazonía. Memorias de las Conferencias Magistrales del 3er Encuentro Internacional de Arqueología Amazónica: 137–58. Quito: IKIAM/IFEA.
Olsen, K. & Schaal, B.. 1999. Evidence on the origin of cassava: phylogeography of Manihot esculenta. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 96: 5586–91. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.96.10.5586
Otero dos Santos, J. 2015. Sobre mulheres brabas, parentes inconstantes e a vida entre outros: a Festa do Jacaré entre os Arara de Rondônia. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Universidade de Brasília.
Oyuela-Caycedo, A. 1995. Rock versus clay: the evolution of pottery technology in the case of San Jacinto 1, Colombia, in Barnett, W. & Hoopes, J. (ed.) The emergence of pottery: innovation and technology in ancient societies: 133–44. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Oyuela-Caycedo, A. & Bonzani, R.. 2005. San Jacinto 1: a historical ecological approach to an Archaic site in Colombia. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
Piperno, D. 2011 The origins of plant cultivation and domestication in the New World tropics: patterns, process, and new developments. Current Anthropology 52: S453–70. https://doi.org/10.1086/659998
Piperno, D. & Dillehay, T.. 2008. Starch grains on human teeth reveal early broad crop diet in northern Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 105: 19622–27. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0808752105
Piperno, D. & Stothert, K.. 2003. Phytolith evidence for Early Holocene Cucurbita domestication in southwest Ecuador. Science 299: 1054–57. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1080365
Politis, G. 2007. Nukak: ethnoarcheology of an Amazonian people. Walnut Creek (CA): Left Coast.
Pujol, B., Gigot, G., Laurent, G., Pinheiro-Kluppel, M., Elias, M., Hossaert-McKey, M. & McKey, D.. 2002. Germination ecology of cassava, Manihot esculenta Crantz, Euphorbiaceae, in traditional agroecosystems. Economic Botany 56: 366–79. https://doi.org/10.1663/0013-0001(2002)056[0366:GEOCME]2.0.CO;2
Rival, L. & McKey, D.. 2008. Domestication and diversity in manioc (Manihot esculenta Crantz ssp. esculenta, Euphorbiacea). Current Anthropology 49: 1119–28. https://doi.org/10.1086/593119
Roosevelt, A. 1980. Parmana: prehistoric maize and manioc subsistence along the Amazon and Orinoco. New York: Academic. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-595350-4.50010-4
Roosevelt, A. 1995. Early pottery in the Amazon. Twenty years of scholarly obscurity, in Barnett, W. & Hoopes, J. (ed.) The emergence of pottery: innovation and technology in ancient societies: 115–31. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Roosevelt, A., Housley, R.A., Imazio da Silveira, M., Maranca, S. & Johnson, R.. 1991. Eighth millennium pottery from a prehistoric shell midden in the Brazilian Amazon. Science 254: 1621–24. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.254.5038.1621
Santos, G.M. 2006. Da cultura à natureza: um estudo do cosmos e da ecologia dos Enawene-nawe. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Universidade de São Paulo.
Schaan, D.P. 2008. The nonagricultural chiefdoms of Marajó Island, in Silverman, H. & Isbell, W. (ed.) The handbook of South American archaeology: 339–57. New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-74907-5_19
Scoles, R. & Gribel, R.. 2011. Population structure of Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa, Lecythidaceae) stands in two areas with different occupation histories in the Brazilian Amazon. Human Ecology 39: 455–64. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-011-9412-0
Shepard, G. & Ramirez, H.. 2011. ‘Made in Brazil’: human dispersal of the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa, Lecythidaceae) in ancient Amazonia. Economic Botany 65: 44–65. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12231-011-9151-6
Silva, G. 2009. Peanut diversity management by the Kaiabi (Tupi Guarani) indigenous people, Brazilian Amazon. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Smith, B. 2001. Low level food production. Journal of Archaeological Research 9: 1–43. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1009436110049
Smith, M. 2013. Árvores de Cultura: Cultivo e Uso do Pequi (Caryocar sp., Caryocaraceae) entre os Kuikuro do Alto Xingu, MT. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Universidade de Brasília.
Smith, M. & Fausto, C.. 2016. Socialidade e Diversidade de Pequis (Caryocar sp., Caryocaraceae) entre os Kuikuro do Alto Xingu (Brasil). Boletim do Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi. Antropologia. 11: 87113. https://doi.org/10.1590/1981.81222016000100006
Stahl, P. 2014. Perspectival ontology and animal non-domestication in the Amazon Basin, in Rostain, S. (ed.) Antes de Orellana. Actas del 3er Encuentro Internacional de Arqueolgía Amazónica: 221–31. Quito: IKIAM/IFEA.
Taylor, A.-C. 2001. Wives, pets, and affines: marriage among the Jivaro, in Rival, L. & Whitehead, N. (ed.) Beyond the visible and the material: the Amerindianization of society in the work of Peter Rivière: 4556. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ter Steege, H. et al. 2013. Hyperdominance in the Amazonian tree flora. Science 342. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1243092
Van den Bel, M. 2015. Uma nota sobre a introdução de raladores de metal e sobre a produção e consumo da mandioca e do milho na zona costeira das Guianas durante o século XVII. Amazônica—Revista de Antropologia 7(1): 100–31. https://doi.org/10.18542/amazonica.v7i1.2153
Vander Velden, F. 2012. Inquietas companhias: sobre os animais de criação entre os Karitiana. São Paulo: Alameda.
Vilaça, A. 2002. Making kin out of others in Amazonia. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8: 347–65. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.00007
Watling, J., Shock, M., Mongeló, G., Almeida, F., Kater, T., De Oliveira, P. & Neves, E.. 2018. Direct archaeological evidence for Southwestern Amazonia as an early plant domestication and food production centre. PLoS One 13: e0199868. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199868
Willey, G. & Phillips, P.. 1958. Method and theory in American archaeology. Chicago (IL): University of Chicago Press.
Williams, D. 1997 Early pottery in the Amazon: a correction. American Antiquity 62: 342–52. https://doi.org/10.2307/282516
Winterhalder, B. & Kennett, D.. 2006. Behavioral ecology and the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, in Kennett, D. & Hinterhalder, B. (ed.) Behavior ecology and the transition to agriculture: 121. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Zent, S. & Zent, E.. 2012. Jordi horticultural belief, knowledge and practice: incipient or integral cultivation? Boletim do Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas 7: 293338. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1981-81222012000200003
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed