Of lost civilizations and primitive tribes, amazonia reply to meggers

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Of lost civilizations and primitive tribes, amazonia reply to meggers

  1. 1. Society for American ArchaeologyOf Lost Civilizations and Primitive Tribes, Amazonia: Reply to MeggersAuthor(s): Michael J. Heckenberger, James B. Petersen, Eduardo Góes NevesSource: Latin American Antiquity, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 328-333Published by: Society for American ArchaeologyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/971637 .Accessed: 27/06/2011 22:21Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at .http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=sam. .Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.Society for American Archaeology is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to LatinAmerican Antiquity.http://www.jstor.org
  2. 2. Meggerss critiqueof viewspresented by DeBoer et al. (1996), Wustand Barreto(1999), and Heckenbergeret al. (1999) inLatinAmericanAntiquitymisrepresentstheseauthorsandothers.Hercriticisms,largelydirectedat thepresentauthors,obfus-catefundamentalpoints raised regardingthe natureand variabilityof culturalformations and economicpatterns in Amazo-nia. By conflatingindigenousresourcemanagementsystems,whichwe discuss, withmechanizeddevelopmentstrategiesof themodernworld,she creates an unnecessarilypolemical atmospherefor debate.La crEticade Meggerssobrelospuntosde vistapresentadospor DeBoer et al. (1996), WustandBarreto(1999) y Heckenbergeret al. (1999) en LatinAmericanAntiquity,dirigidaprincipalmentea estosautores,confundeasuntosfundamentaleshechosen loquese tratadelanaturalezay variabilidaddelasformacionesculturalesy losmodeloseconomicosdelaAmazonfa.Alentremezolarnuestrotratamientode los sistemasindfgenasdelmanejode los recursosconlas estrategiasdedesarrollomecanizadasdelmundomodernoella da lugara unaatmosferapolemica,innecesaria,para el debate.Michael J. Heckenberger * Departmentof Anthropology,TurlingtonHall, Universityof Florida,Gainesville,FL 32611James B. Petersen * Departmentof Anthropology,WilliamsHall, Universityof Vermont,Burlington,VT 05405Eduardo Goes Neves * Museude Arqueologiae Etnologia,Universidadede Sao Paulo,AvenidaProf.AlmeidaPrado,No.1466, Sao Paulo05508-900, BrazilLatinAmericanAntiquity,12(3), 2001, pp. 328-333CopyrightC)2001 by the Society forAmericanArchaeologyThere is littlenoveltyin Meggersscommen-taly,TheContinuingQuestfor ElDorado:RoundTwo.Hercommentslargelyreiterateearlierviewswithoutprovidingfurtherempiricaljus-tification.Thetoneofhercritique,however,demandsresponse.WecommendMeggersforrecognizingthegraveimplicationsof unrestraineddevelopmentintheAmazonandfor notingthe potentialrelevanceof archaeologyforconstucting deeperunderstand-ings of ecologicalandculturalvariationin thisvastregion.Evaluatingculturalvariabilityanditssignif-icanceto diverseinterestgroupsinvolvesissuesnotnearlyassimpleandstraightforwardassheseemstobelieve.To addressthese issues, a productivedia-loguebetweenvariedperspectivesandin-depthinter-disciplinaryresearchstrategiesmustbe developed.WeagreewithMeggersthat"reconstructionsofpre-historicpopulationdensityandculturalcomplexitymustbe basedon the most accuratescientificevi-dencewe canobtain,"butsharplydisagreewithheron what thatevidence is and how it ought to beobtainedandpresented.Beforeproceeding,we reassertourmainpoints.Weconcludethat"fullysedentaryandrelativelylargepopulationsemergedinavarietyofAmazonianset-tingsprehistorically,notnecessarilycorrelatedwiththedistributionof one oranothernarrowlydefinedecologicalvariable(e.g.,highfertilitysoils)"(Heck-enbergeretal. 1999:352).Toclarify,relativelylargeandsedentaryrefersto settlementsnumberingintothelow thousands,occupiedovergenerations,andarticulatedin regionalsystems of otherlarge andsmallercommunitiesthatpotentiallynumberedinthetens of thousands. Thus, we felt that "[t]hevarzea/terra firme dichotomy(orvarzea model[forriverinechiefdoms])andthe standardmodelfromethnography(i.e.,thetropicalforestculture). . .per-petuateimagesofhomogeneitywhereithasnotbeendemonstratedandundoubtedlygrosslyoversimplifyPrecolumbianpatterns"(Heckenbergeret al. 1999:371).Wedidnot suggestthatthereareno environ-mentalconstraintsintheAmazon,particularlyinthefaceof moderndevelopmentstrategies.Instead,wearguethatthereis fargreatervariability,bothineco-328OFLOSTCIVILIZATIONSANDPRIMll lVE TRIBES,AMAZONIA:REPLYTOMEGGERSMichaelJ. Heckenberger,JamesB. Petersen,andEduardoGoes Neves
  3. 3. COMMENTS 329logical andculturalterms,thancommonlyrecog-nized.ReconstructingAncientAmazonian Lifeways:ContrastingApproachesThenatureof pastAmazoniansocialformationsis,in largepart,anarchaeologicalquestion.Thelong-standingandwell-articulatedviewsof MeggersandherBraziliancolleagues,pioneersinthedevelopmentof regionalarchaeology,are thereforeparticularlyimportant.But,we disagreewiththe assertionthat"threedecadesof surveyof theProgramaNacionalde PesquisasArqueologicasna Bacia Amazonica[PRONOPABA]"documentthat"survivingindige-nousgroupsperpetuatesettlementandsocialbehav-ioradoptedatleast2000yearsago."Webelievethereis solidevidencefordramaticculturalchangeoverthe past two millenniaand substantialprehistoricculturalvariability,includingthepresenceof "chief-doms"or "kingdoms."Most researcherscurrentlyworkinginAmazoniasharetheseviews (includingDeBoeretal. 1996,andWustandBarreto1999;seealsoNeves 1999;Roosevelt1999;Viveirosde Cas-tro1996;Whitehead1996).Meggerssportrayalof the PRONAPABAas acohesive,long-termenterprise,involvingin-depth,regional-levelstudiesis misleading,sincemuchofitactuallyinvolvedonlybriefepisodesof fieldworkat small samples of sites encounteredalong vaststretchesof majorrivers.Furthermore,its primaryprotagonist,MarioSimoes (Brazilianhead of thePRONAPABAattheMuseuParaenseEml1ioGoeldi,MPEG),passedawayinthemid-1980s,andtheeffortlanguishedafterwards.1Thisisnot intendedasacrit-icism of PRONAPABAinvestigations,the firstoftheirkindin muchof Amazonia,butwe emphasizethattheyweredesignedtodiscernarchaeologicalpat-ternsat the broadestregionallevels. They arenotwhat we had in mind as "detailedarchaeologicalfield studiesandresearchmethodologiesdesignedtoidentifyregional-levelsettlementpatterns,"whichwe suggested are generallylacking in Amazonia(Heckenbergeretal.1999354).2Inourownresearch,in the centralAmazonandUpperXingu, ongoingsurveyshaveidentifiednumerousadditionalsitesinareasstudiedby the PRONAPABAanddocumentsubstantialregionalvariabilityinthesetting,size,andcomposition of settlements(Heckenbergeret al.1999:Figure2).3Furthermore,we do not "disputethevalidityofthedatacollected. . . byparticipantsof thePRON-APABA."Quitesimply,we dontknowwhatthesedataarein mostcases."Continuingrevisionof ear-lierseriations"mayjustify"failureto publishmorePRONAPABAdata,"as Meggerssuggests,butpri-marydata,includingsitedescriptions,maps,surfacedistributions,excavationresults,stratigraphy,asso-ciations,andbasicceramicattributes,remainlargelyunreported.4Site-levelstudies,suchas thoseattheSantaRosa site (AM-MA-9),whichMeggerspre-sentsasamodelexampleof verygeneralpatternsinAmazonia,mustbe consideredpreliminary.SantaRosa, locatedin the middleRio Negrobasin,wasbrieflystudiedoverafew daysin 1969andagainin1982(Simoes1970,1983).Thesebriefinvestigationshave generatedat least five publishedseriations,includingthatcritiquedby DeBoeret al.(1996;seealsoMeggers1991;Simoes1974;SimoesandKaLk-man 1987). Such discordance may, in part, beexplainedbymechanicalmixingwithinthepartially(atleast)disturbeddepositsof SantaRosa(Simoes1970, 1974:179),but it surelycasts doubton thevalidityof anyoneinterpretation.5Careful evaluation of Meggerss seriations,includingtheintegrityof contexts,scaleof investi-gations,anddisparityofinterpretations,isimportantsinceherreconstructionsofpastsefflementandsocialbehaviors,and,by a greatleap, evaluationof the"right"way to use theAmazontoday,dependssomuchon them(see DeBoeret al. 1996).Meggerssdetachmentfromrecentfield research,not havingworkedin the regionherselfsince the 1950s, per-hapsunderlieshercontinuedbeliefthat"[p]otteryistheonlywidespreadandabundantsourceof archae-ologicalevidencethroughoutmostof tropicallow-landSouthAmerica"andthat,therefore,"seriatedsequencesprovidemoreprecisechronologiesthanradiocarbondates."Combinedwithothersourcesofinformation,whichare,in fact,widelyrepresentedinAmazoniansites,seriationis a usefultool,butinregionsaslargeandpoorlyknownastheAmazonitshould be used cautiously and, as DeBoer et al.(1996) suggest, is unlikely to reveal the minute(ethnographic-like)detailof settlementand socialpatternsMeggersexpects.Settled Life and Village StructuralElaborationSurelyMeggersoverstatesher case in sayingthat"abbreviatedpotterytypedescriptionsandprelimi-naryseriatedsequencesfromseveralwidely sepa-ratedregions. . . containfarmoreecological andarchaeologicaldata than have been providedby
  4. 4. 330 LATINAMERICANANTIQUITY [Vol. 12, No. 3, 2001]Heckenbergeretal.orbyWustandBarreto."Thisissimplyuntrueandconfusesgeneralinterpretations(potterytypes andseriations)froma broadregionwith specific evidence (e.g., artifactdistributions,radiocarbondates, stratigraphy,soil chemistry,ceramicattributes,etc.)fromsurveysandsite-levelinvestigationsin discreteregions.Ac,utubaandtheUpperXingusites,discussedinHeckenbergeretal.(1999),alldocumentmajorstruc-turalelaboration,includinglargeearthenmounds,extensiveexcavatedditches,andmajorclearedpub-lic areas(roadsandplazas).6Furthermore,theinte-gratedsite plansat these sites,documentedby thelayoutof earthworksandthe correlationsbetweenthemanddistributionsofartifactsandanthropicsoils("terrapreta"),documentthe contemporaneityofmostlate-prehistoricdeposits(i.e.,atleastatthetimeof abandonment)acrossthesurfaceofthesites.Thisdegreeof landscapealteration,includingsubstantialalterationof archaeologicalsedimentsconsideredtypical of intensive occupation and agriculture(Petersenet al.2001;WoodsandMcCann1999),iscommonamongfairlylargecommunitiesof settledagriculturalists.ContrarytowhatMeggerssuggests,wedonotsaythatsmall,mobile,oregalitariangroupsareincapableofconstructingsignificantmonuments,butsimplythattheyareless likelyto do so thanset-tledpopulations,particularlythosewithsomeformof socialhierarchy.In the case of Ac,utuba,Meggersquestionsitsuniquenessin aregionalcontext,butwe emphasizethatitis theonlymajorplazasiteof Guaritaage(ca.A.D. 90F1S00, orlater)of numeroussitesthusfarlocatedinourongoingsurveys.8Evenif Ac,utubawasregularlyabandonedpriortoGuaritatimes,theinten-sityof use,clearlyshowninartifactfrequenciesandsedimentcomposition,thescaleof structuralelabo-ration,andthe plaza-centricconfigurationafterc.A.D. 1000,makeithighlyunlikelythatthesitewastypicallyabandoned,in favorof some structurallyequivalentsite elsewhere,afterthis time. In otherwords,the variabilitysuggestsa patternratherdif-ferentthanthatproposedby Meggersandone thataccordswellwithlocalethnohistoricaccounts,priortotheperiodofextensiveslavinganddisease-relateddepopulation(afterca. 160F1650).EthnographicAnalogs or Archetypes?Meggersseemstoaccusetheauthors"ofprejudgingsurvivinggroupsasdecimatedanddeculturedrem-nants,"suggestingthatinstead"wecanidentifytheextent to which they have preserved their Pre-columbianheritage."This assertionis ironicsincethebestwaytounderstandthisheritage,mostwouldlikely agree,is throughrelativelyin-depthinvolve-mentin ethnographicandarchaeologicalcontexts,thatisthetypeof"immersion"typifiedbytheauthorsshecritiques(e.g.,Heckenberger1996;Neves 1998;Wust1990).IntheUpperXingu,specifically,Meg-gersis notjustifiedin claimingthat"[n]eithercita-tionsnortangibleevidenceareprovidedfor heavydependenceon agriculture... noris its feasibilitydocumentedbyecologicalorethnographicobserva-tions."OnemightatleastnotethecitationtoMan-ioc Agricultureand Sedentismin Amazonia:TheUpperXinguExample(Heckenberger1998),wheretheargumentis morefullylaidout.Mostethnogra-pherswho haveworkedin theregion,in fact,havenotedthesedentarylifewaysandproductivityofXin-guanoagriculturaleconomies,fromthe time theywerefirststudied(e.g.,Carneiro1983;Galvao1953;Oberg1953).XinguanosareindeednotableamongAmazonianeconomies insofaras they dependsoheavilyon one staplecrop(manioc)-storedin thegroundastubersandsometimesin householdsilosof 100s,even 1,000sof kilos(alsostoringproducedpiquifruitsub-aqueouslyinbasketry"tubes").But,to clarifyourposition,we do notproposetheXin-guanoseverclear-cutlargetractsof forestinaman-nersimilarto present-daycattleranchers,soy-beanfarmers,lumbercompanies,orthelike,butinsteadpracticeda patternof long-termcrop rotationofdiversetendedplantswithina relativelyfixedarea(andstill do) ratherdifferent(i.e., moreintensive)thanthe extensiveslash-burn-and-abandonpatternthatMeggers(1996) suggests.Meggerssoptimismthathergeneralmodelspro-vide a solidbasisto addressspecificcases,e.g., theUpperXingu,is basedonherbeliefthatbroadcon-ditionsandprocesses(uniformcauses),in thiscasethebehemothofAmazonianenvironment,sodirectlyaffectfinaloutcomesthatspecifichistoryis, quitesimply,irrelevant.Her ethnographicanalogsfromacrossAmazoniaandbeyondareselectedwithoutanyprecisehistoricalorbehavioraljustification.But,one might ask why Australian aborigines, theMapuche,or even the JivaroarebetteranalogsfortheXinguanopastthanthepresent-dayXinguanosthemselves, who today are sedentary,have fairlyintensiveeconomies,andhaveinstitutionalformsofsocialhierarchywithintheirregionalsocialsystem.Did these othergroupslive aroundcentralplazas?
  5. 5. COMMENTS 331Did theybuildearthworks(upto fourmetersdeep,10m across,and2 kminlength)andrelatedabove-groundfeaturesaroundvillages?Didtheyarticulatethesewithmajorcauseways(someover20 m wide,100s of meterslong, and with "curbs"up to twometershigh)?Did thesearticulatewithhighlycon-structedagriculturallandscapes,as documentedonthe groundandin aerialphotographsand satelliteimagery?Regardless,if we castouranalogicalnetso widely,to theAndesorOldWorld,forinstance,ouroriginalcontentionstands:"[s]tructuralelabo-rationofavillagetothisdegreeisexactlywhatwouldbe expectedof large,fully sedentarypopulations,but seems less typical of small, semi-sedentarygroups"(Heckenbergeretal.1999:369).Weneednotbelaborthepointhere(seeHeckenberger1996,1998,1999,2000), butsufficeitto saythattheXinguanosneverfitthe"standardmodel,"asproposedbyMeg-gers, even when they reachedtheirdemographicnadirin the 1950s40s.The View fromAfarMeggersappearsto representthe"voiceof author-ity" when she states that: "If local subsistenceresourcessustaineddensesedentarypopulationsinthepast,thenbiologists,ecologists,climatologists,agronomists,andotherexpertsarewrongin theirassessmentof theenvironment."Somemaybelievethattheverynotionof prehistoriccomplexsocietiesinAmazoniaisuntenable,a"lingeringmythofAma-zonianempires"(Foresta1991:265,cited in Meg-gers,thisvolume),butthereisfarlessconsensusthanMeggersimplies.In fact,"natural"scientistsoftenneglect humans and human-inducedchanges of"nature,"seeingtheAmazonassomethingrelativelypristine,a view no longertenableby anymeasure(Balee 1989; Denevan 1992). Other"experts,"equally informedas those Meggers cites (in factsomeofthesamepeople),havesuggestedthat"Ama-zonia has the potentialto be a majoragriculturalzone,while stillmaintaininga broadrangeof habi-tatsfornativefloraandwildlife,"and,infact,arguethatextensiveland-usehasmoredeleteriousimpactsthanmoreintensiveutilizationof selectareas,basedontraditionalresourcemanagementstrategies(e.g.,Anderson1990; Sanchezet al. 1982; Smithet al.1995:251;see Mann2000 forabriefoverview).Someareasdopresentsignificantconstraintsforlarge populationaggregates,as we readily admit(Heckenbergeretal.1999:372;seealsoNeves1998),butthisdoesnotprecludedramaticallydifferenteco-logicalparametersandopportunitiesforhumanuseinothersettings,especiallyalongresourcerichrivers.Theconsensus,if we canspeakof one,is that,con-trarytowhatMeggersimplies:(1)many"survivingindigenousgroupsare under-exploitingtheirhabi-tats,"since Amazoniawas not insulatedfrom thestaggeringpopulationlossesthatoccurredacrosstheAmericasafter 1492 (cf. Meggers 1992); and (2)sometimes"moderneffortsto intensifyagriculturalproductivityare incompetent,"inlargepartbecausetheyfailto employresourcemanagementstrategiestailoredto thespecificconditionsof one oranotherpartof theneo-tropics(citationsfromMeggers,thisvolume,authorsemphasis).Ourpositiondoes notimplythat"developersareentitledto operatewith-outconstraint,"butinsteadthatonlysystematicstudyofalternativeresourcemanagementstrategies,whichmaywell be staunchly"conservationist"in certaincases, will provideclues aboutwhatareandwhatarenot appropriateways of approachingAmazon-iandevelopment.A detached"viewfromafar"is usefulto synthe-size materialsoverlargesweepsof timeandspaceandit certainlyaidsintherecognitionof broadpat-terning,sometimeshiddenfromfieldworkersmiredintheday-to-dayoperationofactualfieldwork.Nev-ertheless,we mightbe suspiciousof such a viewwhen it so clearlyconflictswith thatespousedbymoston-the-groundresearchers,whichin thiscaseit does.A Phoenix from the Ashes?Theaccusationthattheauthors,collectively,raiseaphoenixfromthe ashes,the Europeanmythof E1Dorado,and,insodoing,haveunwittingly(orworse)aided in unshackling the beast of unrestrainedexploitationupontheAmazon,is notonlyunflatter-ing but out of stridewith regionalanthropology.Pugilisticdebateis not uncommonin Amazonianarchaeology,butthesuggestionthatweprovide"sup-portfortheunconstraineddeforestationoftheregion"is excessive.Regionalspecialistshavelong agreedthattherewerepastAmazoniansocietiessignificantlylargerthananythingreportedoverthepast10s200years(seeCarneiro1970;Lathrap1970;Levi-Strauss1973;Meggers1996).Thisdoesnotmeanthattherewereno small,impermanent,egalitarian,andpoliti-cally autonomousvillagesin lateprehistorictimes.Nor do we suggestthatthereareno environmental
  6. 6. LATINAMERICANANTIQUITY [Vol. 12, No. 3, 2001]332NewYork.Balee,William1989 TheCultureof AmazonianForests.InResourceMan-agementinAmazonia:FolkandIndigenousStrategies,editedbyDarrellA. PoseyandWilliamBalee,pp. 1-21.Advancesin EconomicBotanyNo. 7. New YorkBotanicalGarden,NewYork.Carneiro,Robert.L.1970 A Theory of the Origin of the State. Science169:733-738.1983 TheCultivationof Maniocamongthe Kuikuruof theUpperXingu.InAdaptiveResponsesofNativeAmazonians,editedby RaymondB. HainesandWilliamT.Vickers,pp.65-111.AcademicPress,NewYork.DeBoer,Warren.R., KeithKintigh,andArthurRostoker1996 CeramicSeriationandSettlementReoccupationinLow-landSouthAmerica.LatinAmericanAntiquity7:263-278.Denevan,WilliamM.1992 ThePristineMyth:TheLandscapeof theAmericasin1492.Annalsof theAssociationofAmericanGeographers82:369-385.Galvao,Eduardo1953 Culturae sistemade parentescodas tribosdo altorioXingu. Boletim do MuseuNacional, Antropologia,n.s.,14:1-56.Heckenberger,MichaelJ.1996 WarandPeace in theShadowof Empire:Sociopoliti-cal Changein theUpperXinguof SoutheasternAmazonia,A.D.1400-2000.Ph.D.dissertation,UniversityofPittsburgh,UniversityMicrofilms,AnnArbor.1998 ManiocAgricultureandSedentisminAmazonia:TheUpperXinguExample.Antiquity72:633 648.1999 O enigmadasgrandescidades:corpoprivadoe estadoemAmazania.InA outramargemdo ocidente(Brasil500anos:experienciaedestino,vol.2),editedbyAdautoNovaes,pp. 125-152. CompanhiadasLetras,SaoPaulo.2000 Estrutura,historia,e transforma,cao:aculturaxinguanona longueduree(1000 a 2000 d.C.). In Ospovos do altoXingu:historiae cultura,editedby BrunaFranchettoandMichaelJ. Heckenberger,pp. 2142. Editorada Universi-dadeFederaldo Riode Janeiro,Riode Janeiro.Heckenberger,MichaelJ.,JamesB. Petersen,andEduardoG6esNeves1999 VillageSizeandPermanenceinAmazonia:TwoArchae-ological ExamplesfromBrazil.LatinAmericanAntiquity10:353-376.Lathrap,DonaldW.1970 TheUpperAmazon.Praeger,NewYork.Levi-Strauss,Claude1973 FromHoney to Ashes: Introductionto a Science ofMythology,vol.3(translatedbyJ.WeightmanandD.Weight-man).HarperandRow,NewYork.Mann,Charles2000 The Good Earth:Did People Improvethe AmazonBasin?Science287:788.Meggers,BettyJ.1991 CulturalEvolutioninAmazonia.InProfilesinCulturalEvolution,editedby A. TerryRamboandKathleenGillo-gly, pp. 091-216. AnthropologicalPapers85. MuseumofAnthropology,Universityof Michigan,AnnArbor.1992 PrehistoricPopulationDensityintheAmazonBasin.InDisease andDemographyin theAmericas,editedby JohnW.VeranoandDouglasH. Ubelaker,pp. 197-205. Smith-sonianInstitutionPress,Washington,D.C.1996 Amazonia:ManandCultureina CounterfeitParadise,2ndEdition.SmithsonianInstitutionPress,Washington,D.C.Miller,EuricoT.limits to economic developmentin the Amazonregion.Surelywedonotsuggestthatprehistoricagri-culturaleconomieswere anythinglike thepresent-day non-indigenous systems that are sometimesimplementedthere.Theonemyththatneedstobeputtorest,inlightof recentworkon all fronts,is thatAmazoniacon-stitutesa discrete,boundedareawithcommoneco-logical andculturalpatterns.It is unwiseto ignorethe immense biodiversity recognized in recentdecadesandthe culturalvariabilityandalternativeresourcemanagementstrategies,includinghighlyproductiveeconomies, thatmost specialistsagreecharacterizedtheregioninthepast.Todootherwiserisks promotinga hollow protectionismthat willsurelyhavelittleimpactonpolicy-makersordevel-opers.Thus,whilewe mustavoidan"archaeologi-cal perversion"that, in positing the widespreadpresenceof prehistoricchiefdoms,severscontem-porarypeoplefromtheiruniquehistories(Viveirosde Castro1996),we canno longerassumethatthemassiveforcesof Europeancolonialismwell docu-mented elsewhere (e.g., depopulation, culturechange,andethnogenesis)somehowbypassedtheAmazon.In sum,we shouldnotexpect to find"lostcivi-lizations"(i.e., regionalhierarchicalsocial forma-tions) or "primitive tribes" (small, egalitarianvillages)inoneoranotherportionofAmazonia.Bothwere likely presentin some partsof the regionin1492.FewspecialistsshareMeggerssoptimismthatwe havetherequisitedatato generallyevaluatethevariabilityofPrecolumbiansocialandeconomicfor-mations. Understanding the past is a complexprocess,involvingmyriadperspectivesanddiverseanalyticalproblems,archaeologicalandotherwise,whichwill notbe resolvedthroughappealto estab-lished(buttypicallyuntested)orthodoxy,muchlessthroughhyperboleor allusionto out-datedmythsand shopworn cliches. As our understandingimprovesovertime,we areoptimisticthatthetypeof constructivedialogueandarchaeologicalknow-ledgethatcantrulyimpactviews on suchthingsaseconomic development,long-termsustainability,bio-diversity,and indigenous rights will becomeavailable.References CitedAnderson,Anthony.B. (editor)lsso Alternativesto Deforestation:Steps TowardSustain-able Useof theAmazonForest.ColumbiaUniversityPress,
  7. 7. Wust,Lrmhild1990 Continuidadee mudan,ca:paraumainterpreta,caodosgruposceramistasdabaciado RioVermelho.Ph.D.disser-tation,Universidadede SaoPaulo,SaoPaulo.Wust,Irmhild,andCristianaBarreto1999 The RingVillagesof CentralBrazil:A ChallengeforAmazonianArchaeology. LatinAmericanArchaeology10:3-23.Notes1.TheSetordeArqueologiaof theMPEGhasflourishedinthe 1990s,butnotthroughtheinfluenceof thePRONAPABA.2. MorerecentinvestigationsbyPRONAPABAparticipants,for instance investigationsrelatedto hydroelectricdam con-structionby Miller (1992), are morecomprehensive,but like-wise largelyunpublished.3. This includesthe large(30-50 ha) occupationsites, likeAgutubaandtheUpperXingusites, anda prehistoriccemeteryof severalhundredurnsrecentlydiscovered(anddestroyed)inourstudyareanearManaus.4. Perusalof fieldreportsby manyPRONAPABAprojectsinthearchivesof theMPEG,indicatethatmanysuchdataareinfact lackingor were only minimallyrecordedfor numerous,ifnotthemajority,of thesitesidentified.5. Meggersstatesthat"[i]nthe initialseriationconstructedby Simoes . . . the PajuraandApuauphases were combined(Simoes and Kalkman1987, Figure 3),"but, in fact, SimoesoriginallyseparatedApuaufromPajuraandonly laterrejectedthe separation:"anotherstratigraphiccut (cut 3) [was con-ducted] to try to resolve problemsof stratigraphy[at SantaRosa] and the inclusionin the ApuauPhase of materialtem-peredwithsponge-spicule,thenconsidered(Simoes 1974)as anindependentphase (PajuraPhase)"(Simoes 1983:2, authorstranslation).6. Elevated "curbs"alongside causeways were areas ofrefuseaccumulationand,thus,surfacecollectionunitsthatover-lap these ridges often produce large quantitiesof ceramics,which may appearon the small-scale maps as lying withinroads.At thesiteof Kuhikugu,road2 wasabandonedprehistor-icallyandre-occupationof portionsof thesite(includingroad5andthe centralplazaandadjacentareasof all roads),afterthesitewasabandonedc. 165>1850, by laterXinguanovillages(c.186s1960) resultedinconsiderableaccumulationsof relativelyrecentsurfaceceramicsin theseareas.7. Suggestingthatthesevillagesrepresent"vacant"centers,as Meggersseemsto do, is incorrect,althoughsuchsupra-localintegrationmayoccurin some areas.8.TheplazaconfigurationofA,cutabawasapparentlyinplaceby c. A. D. 1 or earlier,but this remainsto be demonstated.Researchconductedunderthe principaldirectionof EduardoNevesin 1999revealedthecircularplazavillageof Osvaldo(dat-ing to as earlyas the late firstmillenniumB.C.), largeartificialmoundsatothersitesin thestudyarea,andevenmorestructuralelaborationof theA,cutubasitethanpreviouslyrecognized.SubmittedMarch5, 2001; acceptedMarch11, 2001; revisedMarch21, 2001COMMENTS3331992 Archaeologyin the HydroelectricProjects of Elec-tronorte:PreliminaryResults.Electronorte,Brasilia.Neves,EdllardoGoes1998 PathsthroughDarkWaters:ArchaeologyasIndigenousHistoryintheUpperRioNegro,NorthwestAmazon.Ph.D.dissertation,Departmentof Anthropology,IndianaUniver-sity,Bloomington.1999 ChangingPerspectivesinAmazonianArchaeology.InArchaeologyin LatinAmerica,editedby GustavoG. Poli-tisandBenjaminAlberti,pp.21S243. 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