Investigating Plant Management in the Monte Castelo (Rondônia- Brazil) and Tucumã (Pará-Brazil) Shell Mound Using Phytoliths Analysis
Hilbert, Lautaro Maximilian
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Shell mound or sambaqui, as commonly named in Brazil, are anthropic intentional mound constructions made by complex hunter-gatherer fishing communities. Typically distributed along shorelines and inland regions of Brazil, these sites are arguably one of the earliest evidence of human presence in South America, with dates ranging from 910-660 to 10,179-9,708 cal. yr. B.P. As archaeobotanical investigations reported the presence of various plant resources in these sites, a debate that has received much attention in recent years is regarding the scale of which the shell mound builders managed these resources. The Monte Castelo (9,495-9,137 cal. yr. B.P - state of Rondônia) and the Tucumã shell mound (4,425-4245 cal. yr. B.P. - state of Pará) will be the case studies of this research. The aim of this thesis is to use phytolith data from archaeological contexts in order to evaluate and discern the extent to which these mound builders managed plant resources. The outcome of this study provides novel evidence revealing the management and consumption of wild and domesticated plants through the mid-Holocene. The data calls for an evaluation on the potential scale of horticulture practices by Amazonian shell mound builders as well as the relative contribution of each domesticated resources to the indigenous diet.
PhD in Archaeology