Pathways to power in the southern Brazilian highlands: Households, communities and status at Southern Proto-Jê pit house settlements
De Souza, Jonas Gregorio
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To pursue publication of the research
This thesis is a contribution to the debate about the emergence of politically complex societies in the southern Brazilian highlands from a regional, community and household approach. At the regional level, I compare settlement patterns of the Southern Proto-Jê (Taquara/Itararé Tradition) in different areas, developing a model of territories structured around central places – represented by dense pit house villages and oversized pit houses. I test this model with new survey data from a yet unexplored region. At the centre of the pilot area, the site Baggio 1 – a dense, well-planned settlement focused around an oversized pit house – was chosen for excavations. I frame the discussion about the function of oversized structures in the broader theoretical debates about aggrandising vs corporate strategies in early complex societies and their archaeological correlates. Thus, the excavations at Baggio 1 were targeted at understanding community organisation, functional variation between pit houses of distinct sizes, and inter-household differentiation. I demonstrate how the oversized House 1 emerged as the founding structure in the settlement, hosting ceremonies of house renewal during the first part of the site’s history. Later, as the settlement grew, House 1 persisted as the social epicentre of the community. However, major differences emerged between the hilltop, formally arranged residential sector around House 1 and the periphery of the site. Although the earlier house renewal ceremonies were no longer practised, the inhabitants of House 1 asserted their presence in the same dwelling for over two centuries, maintaining the oversized structure as a conspicuous mark in the landscape and potentially deriving special status from their descent of the site’s founders. The excavations at Baggio 1 reveal a complex interplay of corporate and aggrandising strategies to power in the southern Brazilian highlands.
PhD in Archaeology