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Lagoa Santa Revisited: An Overview of the Chronology, Subsistence, and Material Culture of Paleoindian Sites in Eastern Central Brazil

  • Astolfo G. M. Araujo (a1), Walter A. Neves (a2) and Renato Kipnis (a3)
Abstract

Lagoa Santa, a karstic area in eastern Central Brazil, has been subject to research on human paleontology and archaeology for 175 years. Almost 300 Paleoindian human skeletons have been found since Danish naturalist Peter Lund’s pioneering work. Even so, some critical issues such as the role of rockshelters in settlement systems, and the possible paleoclimatic implications of the peopling of the region have yet to be addressed. We present some results obtained from recent excavations at four rockshelters and two open-air sites, new dates for human Paleoindian skeletons, and a model to explain the cultural patterns observed so far. It is also argued that the Paleoindian subsistence system at Lagoa Santa was similar to other locations in South America: generalized small-game hunting complemented by fruits, seed, and root gathering.

Lagoa Santa, un área kárstica en Brasil Central, ha sido objeto de investigación en paleontología humana y arqueología durante 170 años. Casi 300 esqueletos humanos paleoindios se han encontrado desde que el naturalista dinamarqués Peter Lund empezó su trabajo pionero en la mitad del siglo XIX. Sin embargo, problemas críticos como el papel de las cuevas en los patrones de asentamiento y las posibles implicaciones paleoclimáticas en el poblamiento del área todavía tienen que ser mejor estudiados. Nosotros presentamos los resultados obtenidos de las recientes excavaciones de cuatro cuevas y dos yacimientos a cielo abierto, nuevas feches de esqueletos humanos paleoindios, y un modelo para explicar los patrones culturales observados. También propone mas que el sistema de subsistencia paleoindio en Lagoa Santa fue, así como en otros sitios de Sudamérica, bastante generalizado, incluyendo la caza de pequeños animales y la recolección de frutos, semillas y raíces.

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