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 Archaeology Of Lost Civilizations and Primitive Tribes, Amazonia: Reply to Meggers Author(s): Michael J. Heckenberger, James B. Petersen, Eduardo Góes Neves Source: Latin American Antiquity, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 328-333 Published by: Society for American Archaeology Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/971637 . Accessed: 27/06/2011 22:21 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may 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 printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of 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 Latin American Antiquity. http://www.jstor.org
  2. 2. Meggers's critiqueof viewspresented by DeBoer et al. (1996), Wustand Barreto(1999), and Heckenbergeret al. (1999) in LatinAmericanAntiquitymisrepresentstheseauthorsandothers.Hercriticisms,largelydirectedat thepresentauthors,obfus- catefundamentalpoints raised regardingthe natureand variabilityof culturalformations and economicpatterns in Amazo- nia. By conflatingindigenousresourcemanagementsystems,whichwe discuss, withmechanizeddevelopmentstrategiesof the modernworld,she creates an unnecessarilypolemical atmospherefor debate. La crEticade Meggerssobrelospuntosde vistapresentadospor DeBoer et al. (1996), WustandBarreto(1999) y Heckenberger et al. (1999) en LatinAmericanAntiquity,dirigidaprincipalmentea e'stosautores,confundeasuntosfundamentaleshechosen lo quese tratadelanaturalezay variabilidaddelasformacionesculturalesy losmodeloseconomicosdelaAmazonfa.Alentremezolar nuestrotratamientode los sistemasindfgenasdelmanejode los recursosconlas estrategiasdedesarrollomecanizadasdelmundo modernoella da lugara unaatmosferapole'mica,innecesaria,para el debate. Michael J. Heckenberger * Departmentof Anthropology,TurlingtonHall, Universityof Florida,Gainesville,FL 32611 James B. Petersen * Departmentof Anthropology,WilliamsHall, Universityof Vermont,Burlington,VT 05405 Eduardo Goes Neves * Museude Arqueologiae Etnologia,Universidadede Sao Paulo,AvenidaProf.AlmeidaPrado,No. 1466, Sao Paulo05508-900, Brazil LatinAmericanAntiquity,12(3), 2001, pp. 328-333 CopyrightC)2001 by the Society forAmericanArchaeology There is littlenoveltyin Meggers'scommen- taly,TheContinuingQuestfor ElDorado: RoundTwo.Hercommentslargelyreiterate earlierviewswithoutprovidingfurtherempiricaljus- tification.Thetoneofhercritique,however,demands response.WecommendMeggersforrecognizingthe graveimplicationsof unrestraineddevelopmentin theAmazonandfor notingthe potentialrelevance of archaeologyforconstucting deeperunderstand- ings of ecologicalandculturalvariationin thisvast region.Evaluatingculturalvariabilityanditssignif- icanceto diverseinterestgroupsinvolvesissuesnot nearlyassimpleandstraightforwardassheseemsto believe.To addressthese issues, a productivedia- loguebetweenvariedperspectivesandin-depthinter- disciplinaryresearchstrategiesmustbe developed. WeagreewithMeggersthat"reconstructionsofpre- historicpopulationdensityandculturalcomplexity mustbe basedon the most accuratescientificevi- dencewe canobtain,"butsharplydisagreewithher on what thatevidence is and how it ought to be obtainedandpresented. Beforeproceeding,we reassertourmainpoints. Weconcludethat"fullysedentaryandrelativelylarge populationsemergedinavarietyofAmazonianset- tingsprehistorically,notnecessarilycorrelatedwith thedistributionof one oranothernarrowlydefined ecologicalvariable(e.g.,highfertilitysoils)"(Heck- enbergeretal. 1999:352).Toclarify,relativelylarge andsedentaryrefersto settlementsnumberinginto thelow thousands,occupiedovergenerations,and articulatedin regionalsystems of otherlarge and smallercommunitiesthatpotentiallynumberedinthe tens of thousands. Thus, we felt that "[t]he varzea/terra firme dichotomy(orvarzea model[for riverinechiefdoms])andthe standardmodelfrom ethnography(i.e.,thetropicalforestculture). . .per- petuateimagesofhomogeneitywhereithasnotbeen demonstratedandundoubtedlygrosslyoversimplify Precolumbianpatterns"(Heckenbergeret al. 1999: 371).Wedidnot suggestthatthereareno environ- mentalconstraintsintheAmazon,particularlyinthe faceof moderndevelopmentstrategies.Instead,we arguethatthereis fargreatervariability,bothineco- 328 OFLOSTCIVILIZATIONSANDPRIMll lVE TRIBES,AMAZONIA: REPLYTOMEGGERS MichaelJ. Heckenberger,JamesB. Petersen,andEduardoGoes Neves
  3. 3. COMMENTS 329 logical andculturalterms,thancommonlyrecog- nized. ReconstructingAncientAmazonian Lifeways: ContrastingApproaches Thenatureof pastAmazoniansocialformationsis, in largepart,anarchaeologicalquestion.Thelong- standingandwell-articulatedviewsof Meggersand herBraziliancolleagues,pioneersinthedevelopment of regionalarchaeology,are thereforeparticularly important.But,we disagreewiththe assertionthat "threedecadesof surveyof theProgramaNacional de PesquisasArqueologicasna Bacia Amazonica [PRONOPABA]"documentthat"survivingindige- nousgroupsperpetuatesettlementandsocialbehav- ioradoptedatleast2000yearsago."Webelievethere is solidevidencefordramaticculturalchangeover the past two millenniaand substantialprehistoric culturalvariability,includingthepresenceof "chief- doms"or "kingdoms."Most researcherscurrently workinginAmazoniasharetheseviews (including DeBoeretal. 1996,andWustandBarreto1999;see alsoNeves 1999;Roosevelt1999;Viveirosde Cas- tro1996;Whitehead1996). Meggers'sportrayalof the PRONAPABAas a cohesive,long-termenterprise,involvingin-depth, regional-levelstudiesis misleading,sincemuchof itactuallyinvolvedonlybriefepisodesof fieldwork at small samples of sites encounteredalong vast stretchesof majorrivers.Furthermore,its primary protagonist,MarioSimoes (Brazilianhead of the PRONAPABAattheMuseuParaenseEml1ioGoeldi, MPEG),passedawayinthemid-1980s,andtheeffort languishedafterwards.1Thisisnot intendedasacrit- icism of PRONAPABAinvestigations,the firstof theirkindin muchof Amazonia,butwe emphasize thattheyweredesignedtodiscernarchaeologicalpat- ternsat the broadestregionallevels. They arenot what we had in mind as "detailedarchaeological field studiesandresearchmethodologiesdesigned toidentifyregional-levelsettlementpatterns,"which we suggested are generallylacking in Amazonia (Heckenbergeretal.1999354).2Inourownresearch, in the centralAmazonandUpperXingu, ongoing surveyshaveidentifiednumerousadditionalsitesin areasstudiedby the PRONAPABAanddocument substantialregionalvariabilityinthesetting,size,and composition of settlements(Heckenbergeret al. 1999:Figure2).3 Furthermore,we do not "disputethevalidityof thedatacollected. . . byparticipantsof thePRON- APABA."Quitesimply,we don'tknowwhatthese dataarein mostcases."Continuingrevisionof ear- lierseriations"mayjustify"failureto publishmore PRONAPABAdata,"as Meggerssuggests,butpri- marydata,includingsitedescriptions,maps,surface distributions,excavationresults,stratigraphy,asso- ciations,andbasicceramicattributes,remainlargely unreported.4Site-levelstudies,suchas thoseatthe SantaRosa site (AM-MA-9),whichMeggerspre- sentsasamodelexampleof verygeneralpatternsin Amazonia,mustbe consideredpreliminary.Santa Rosa, locatedin the middleRio Negrobasin,was brieflystudiedoverafew daysin 1969andagainin 1982(Simoes1970,1983).Thesebriefinvestigations have generatedat least five publishedseriations, includingthatcritiquedby DeBoeret al.(1996;see alsoMeggers1991;Simoes1974;SimoesandKaLk- man 1987). Such discordance may, in part, be explainedbymechanicalmixingwithinthepartially (atleast)disturbeddepositsof SantaRosa(Simoes 1970, 1974:179),but it surelycasts doubton the validityof anyoneinterpretation.5 Careful evaluation of Meggers's seriations, includingtheintegrityof contexts,scaleof investi- gations,anddisparityofinterpretations,isimportant sinceherreconstructionsofpastsefflementandsocial behaviors,and,by a greatleap, evaluationof the "right"way to use theAmazontoday,dependsso muchon them(see DeBoeret al. 1996).Meggers's detachmentfromrecentfield research,not having workedin the regionherselfsince the 1950s, per- hapsunderlieshercontinuedbeliefthat"[p]otteryis theonlywidespreadandabundantsourceof archae- ologicalevidencethroughoutmostof tropicallow- landSouthAmerica"andthat,therefore,"seriated sequencesprovidemoreprecisechronologiesthan radiocarbondates."Combinedwithothersourcesof information,whichare,in fact,widelyrepresented inAmazoniansites,seriationis a usefultool,butin regionsaslargeandpoorlyknownastheAmazonit should be used cautiously and, as DeBoer et al. (1996) suggest, is unlikely to reveal the minute (ethnographic-like)detailof settlementand social patternsMeggersexpects. Settled Life and Village StructuralElaboration SurelyMeggersoverstatesher case in sayingthat "abbreviatedpotterytypedescriptionsandprelimi- naryseriatedsequencesfromseveralwidely sepa- ratedregions. . . containfarmoreecological and archaeologicaldata than have been providedby
  4. 4. 330 LATINAMERICANANTIQUITY [Vol. 12, No. 3, 2001] Heckenbergeretal.orbyWustandBarreto."Thisis simplyuntrueandconfusesgeneralinterpretations (potterytypes andseriations)froma broadregion with specific evidence (e.g., artifactdistributions, radiocarbondates, stratigraphy,soil chemistry, ceramicattributes,etc.)fromsurveysandsite-level investigationsin discreteregions. Ac,utubaandtheUpperXingusites,discussedin Heckenbergeretal.(1999),alldocumentmajorstruc- turalelaboration,includinglargeearthenmounds, extensiveexcavatedditches,andmajorclearedpub- lic areas(roadsandplazas).6Furthermore,theinte- gratedsite plansat these sites,documentedby the layoutof earthworksandthe correlationsbetween themanddistributionsofartifactsandanthropicsoils ("terrapreta"),documentthe contemporaneityof mostlate-prehistoricdeposits(i.e.,atleastatthetime of abandonment)acrossthesurfaceofthesites.This degreeof landscapealteration,includingsubstantial alterationof archaeologicalsedimentsconsidered typical of intensive occupation and agriculture (Petersenet al.2001;WoodsandMcCann1999),is commonamongfairlylargecommunitiesof settled agriculturalists.ContrarytowhatMeggerssuggests, wedonotsaythatsmall,mobile,oregalitariangroups areincapableofconstructingsignificantmonuments, butsimplythattheyareless likelyto do so thanset- tledpopulations,particularlythosewithsomeform of socialhierarchy. In the case of Ac,utuba,Meggersquestionsits uniquenessin aregionalcontext,butwe emphasize thatitis theonlymajorplazasiteof Guaritaage(ca. A.D. 90F1S00, orlater)of numeroussitesthusfar locatedinourongoingsurveys.8Evenif Ac,utubawas regularlyabandonedpriortoGuaritatimes,theinten- sityof use,clearlyshowninartifactfrequenciesand sedimentcomposition,thescaleof structuralelabo- ration,andthe plaza-centricconfigurationafterc. A.D. 1000,makeithighlyunlikelythatthesitewas typicallyabandoned,in favorof some structurally equivalentsite elsewhere,afterthis time. In other words,the variabilitysuggestsa patternratherdif- ferentthanthatproposedby Meggersandone that accordswellwithlocalethnohistoricaccounts,prior totheperiodofextensiveslavinganddisease-related depopulation(afterca. 160F1650). EthnographicAnalogs or Archetypes? Meggersseemstoaccusetheauthors"ofprejudging survivinggroupsasdecimatedanddeculturedrem- nants,"suggestingthatinstead"wecanidentifythe extent to which they have preserved their Pre- columbianheritage."This assertionis ironicsince thebestwaytounderstandthisheritage,mostwould likely agree,is throughrelativelyin-depthinvolve- mentin ethnographicandarchaeologicalcontexts, thatisthetypeof"immersion"typifiedbytheauthors shecritiques(e.g.,Heckenberger1996;Neves 1998; Wust1990).IntheUpperXingu,specifically,Meg- gersis notjustifiedin claimingthat"[n]eithercita- tionsnortangibleevidenceareprovidedfor 'heavy dependenceon agriculture'... noris its feasibility documentedbyecologicalorethnographicobserva- tions."OnemightatleastnotethecitationtoMan- ioc Agricultureand Sedentismin Amazonia:The UpperXinguExample(Heckenberger1998),where theargumentis morefullylaidout.Mostethnogra- pherswho haveworkedin theregion,in fact,have notedthesedentarylifewaysandproductivityofXin- guanoagriculturaleconomies,fromthe time they werefirststudied(e.g.,Carneiro1983;Galvao1953; Oberg1953).Xinguanosareindeednotableamong Amazonianeconomies insofaras they dependso heavilyon one staplecrop(manioc)-storedin the groundastubersandsometimesin householdsilos of 100s,even 1,000sof kilos(alsostoringproduced piquifruitsub-aqueouslyinbasketry"tubes").But, to clarifyourposition,we do notproposetheXin- guanoseverclear-cutlargetractsof forestinaman- nersimilarto present-daycattleranchers,soy-bean farmers,lumbercompanies,orthelike,butinstead practiceda patternof long-termcrop rotationof diversetendedplantswithina relativelyfixedarea (andstill do) ratherdifferent(i.e., moreintensive) thanthe extensiveslash-burn-and-abandonpattern thatMeggers(1996) suggests. Meggers'soptimismthathergeneralmodelspro- vide a solidbasisto addressspecificcases,e.g., the UpperXingu,is basedonherbeliefthatbroadcon- ditionsandprocesses(uniformcauses),in thiscase thebehemothofAmazonianenvironment,sodirectly affectfinaloutcomesthatspecifichistoryis, quite simply,irrelevant.Her ethnographicanalogsfrom acrossAmazoniaandbeyondareselectedwithout anyprecisehistoricalorbehavioraljustification.But, one might ask why Australian aborigines, the Mapuche,or even the Jivaroarebetteranalogsfor theXinguanopastthanthepresent-dayXinguanos themselves, who today are sedentary,have fairly intensiveeconomies,andhaveinstitutionalformsof socialhierarchywithintheirregionalsocialsystem. Did these othergroupslive aroundcentralplazas?
  5. 5. COMMENTS 331 Did theybuildearthworks(upto fourmetersdeep, 10m across,and2 kminlength)andrelatedabove- groundfeaturesaroundvillages?Didtheyarticulate thesewithmajorcauseways(someover20 m wide, 100s of meterslong, and with "curbs"up to two metershigh)?Did thesearticulatewithhighlycon- structedagriculturallandscapes,as documentedon the groundandin aerialphotographsand satellite imagery?Regardless,if we castouranalogicalnet so widely,to theAndesorOldWorld,forinstance, ouroriginalcontentionstands:"[s]tructuralelabo- rationofavillagetothisdegreeisexactlywhatwould be expectedof large,fully sedentarypopulations, but seems less typical of small, semi-sedentary groups"(Heckenbergeretal.1999:369).Weneednot belaborthepointhere(seeHeckenberger1996,1998, 1999,2000), butsufficeitto saythattheXinguanos neverfitthe"standardmodel,"asproposedbyMeg- gers, even when they reachedtheirdemographic nadirin the 1950s40s. The View fromAfar Meggersappearsto representthe"voiceof author- ity" when she states that: "If local subsistence resourcessustaineddensesedentarypopulationsin thepast,thenbiologists,ecologists,climatologists, agronomists,andotherexpertsarewrongin their assessmentof theenvironment."Somemaybelieve thattheverynotionof prehistoriccomplexsocieties inAmazoniaisuntenable,a"lingeringmythofAma- zonianempires"(Foresta1991:265,cited in Meg- gers,thisvolume),butthereisfarlessconsensusthan Meggersimplies.In fact,"natural"scientistsoften neglect humans and human-inducedchanges of "nature,"seeingtheAmazonassomethingrelatively pristine,a view no longertenableby anymeasure (Balee 1989; Denevan 1992). Other"experts," equally informedas those Meggers cites (in fact someofthesamepeople),havesuggestedthat"Ama- zonia has the potentialto be a majoragricultural zone,while stillmaintaininga broadrangeof habi- tatsfornativefloraandwildlife,"and,infact,argue thatextensiveland-usehasmoredeleteriousimpacts thanmoreintensiveutilizationof selectareas,based ontraditionalresourcemanagementstrategies(e.g., Anderson1990; Sanchezet al. 1982; Smithet al. 1995:251;see Mann2000 forabriefoverview). Someareasdopresentsignificantconstraintsfor large populationaggregates,as we readily admit (Heckenbergeretal.1999:372;seealsoNeves1998), butthisdoesnotprecludedramaticallydifferenteco- logicalparametersandopportunitiesforhumanuse inothersettings,especiallyalongresourcerichrivers. Theconsensus,if we canspeakof one,is that,con- trarytowhatMeggersimplies:(1)many"surviving indigenousgroupsare under-exploitingtheirhabi- tats,"since Amazoniawas not insulatedfrom the staggeringpopulationlossesthatoccurredacrossthe Americasafter 1492 (cf. Meggers 1992); and (2) sometimes"moderneffortsto intensifyagricultural productivityare incompetent,"inlargepartbecause theyfailto employresourcemanagementstrategies tailoredto thespecificconditionsof one oranother partof theneo-tropics(citationsfromMeggers,this volume,authors'emphasis).Ourpositiondoes not implythat"developersareentitledto operatewith- outconstraint,"butinsteadthatonlysystematicstudy ofalternativeresourcemanagementstrategies,which maywell be staunchly"conservationist"in certain cases, will provideclues aboutwhatareandwhat arenot appropriateways of approachingAmazon- iandevelopment. A detached"viewfromafar"is usefulto synthe- size materialsoverlargesweepsof timeandspace andit certainlyaidsintherecognitionof broadpat- terning,sometimeshiddenfromfieldworkersmired intheday-to-dayoperationofactualfieldwork.Nev- ertheless,we mightbe suspiciousof such a view when it so clearlyconflictswith thatespousedby moston-the-groundresearchers,whichin thiscase it does. A Phoenix from the Ashes? Theaccusationthattheauthors,collectively,raisea phoenixfromthe ashes,the Europeanmythof E1 Dorado,and,insodoing,haveunwittingly(orworse) aided in unshackling the beast of unrestrained exploitationupontheAmazon,is notonlyunflatter- ing but out of stridewith regionalanthropology. Pugilisticdebateis not uncommonin Amazonian archaeology,butthesuggestionthatweprovide"sup- portfortheunconstraineddeforestationoftheregion" is excessive.Regionalspecialistshavelong agreed thattherewerepastAmazoniansocietiessignificantly largerthananythingreportedoverthepast10s200 years(seeCarneiro1970;Lathrap1970;Levi-Strauss 1973;Meggers1996).Thisdoesnotmeanthatthere wereno small,impermanent,egalitarian,andpoliti- cally autonomousvillagesin lateprehistorictimes. Nor do we suggestthatthereareno environmental
  6. 6. LATINAMERICANANTIQUITY [Vol. 12, No. 3, 2001]332 NewYork. Balee,William 1989 TheCultureof AmazonianForests.InResourceMan- agementinAmazonia:FolkandIndigenousStrategies,edited byDarrellA. PoseyandWilliamBalee,pp. 1-21.Advances in EconomicBotanyNo. 7. New YorkBotanicalGarden, NewYork. Carneiro,Robert.L. 1970 A Theory of the Origin of the State. Science 169:733-738. 1983 TheCultivationof Maniocamongthe Kuikuruof the UpperXingu.InAdaptiveResponsesofNativeAmazonians, editedby RaymondB. HainesandWilliamT.Vickers,pp. 65-111.AcademicPress,NewYork. DeBoer,Warren.R., KeithKintigh,andArthurRostoker 1996 CeramicSeriationandSettlementReoccupationinLow- landSouthAmerica.LatinAmericanAntiquity7:263-278. Denevan,WilliamM. 1992 ThePristineMyth:TheLandscapeof theAmericasin 1492.Annalsof theAssociationofAmericanGeographers 82:369-385. Galvao,Eduardo 1953 Culturae sistemade parentescodas tribosdo altorio Xingu. 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:The UpperXinguExample.Antiquity72:633 648. 1999 O enigmadasgrandescidades:corpoprivadoe estado emAmazania.InA outramargemdo ocidente(Brasil500 anos:experienciaedestino,vol.2),editedbyAdautoNovaes, pp. 125-152. CompanhiadasLetras,SaoPaulo. 2000 Estrutura,historia,e transforma,cao:aculturaxinguano na longuedure'e(1000 a 2000 d.C.). In Ospovos do alto Xingu:historiae cultura,editedby BrunaFranchettoand MichaelJ. Heckenberger,pp. 2142. Editorada Universi- dadeFederaldo Riode Janeiro,Riode Janeiro. Heckenberger,MichaelJ.,JamesB. Petersen,andEduardoG6es Neves 1999 VillageSizeandPermanenceinAmazonia:TwoArchae- ological ExamplesfromBrazil.LatinAmericanAntiquity 10:353-376. Lathrap,DonaldW. 1970 TheUpperAmazon.Praeger,NewYork. Levi-Strauss,Claude 1973 FromHoney to Ashes: Introductionto a Science of Mythology,vol.3(translatedbyJ.WeightmanandD.Weight- man).HarperandRow,NewYork. Mann,Charles 2000 The Good Earth:Did People Improvethe Amazon Basin?Science287:788. Meggers,BettyJ. 1991 CulturalEvolutioninAmazonia.InProfilesinCultural Evolution,editedby A. TerryRamboandKathleenGillo- gly, pp. 091-216. AnthropologicalPapers85. Museumof Anthropology,Universityof Michigan,AnnArbor. 1992 PrehistoricPopulationDensityintheAmazonBasin.In Disease andDemographyin theAmericas,editedby John W.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 Amazon region.Surelywedonotsuggestthatprehistoricagri- culturaleconomieswere anythinglike thepresent- day non-indigenous systems that are sometimes implementedthere. Theonemyththatneedstobeputtorest,inlight of recentworkon all fronts,is thatAmazoniacon- stitutesa discrete,boundedareawithcommoneco- logical andculturalpatterns.It is unwiseto ignore the immense biodiversity recognized in recent decadesandthe culturalvariabilityandalternative resourcemanagementstrategies,includinghighly productiveeconomies, thatmost specialistsagree characterizedtheregioninthepast.Todootherwise risks promotinga hollow protectionismthat will surelyhavelittleimpactonpolicy-makersordevel- opers.Thus,whilewe mustavoidan"archaeologi- cal perversion"that, in positing the widespread presenceof prehistoricchiefdoms,severscontem- porarypeoplefromtheiruniquehistories(Viveiros de Castro1996),we canno longerassumethatthe massiveforcesof Europeancolonialismwell docu- mented elsewhere (e.g., depopulation, culture change,andethnogenesis)somehowbypassedthe Amazon. In sum,we shouldnotexpect to find"lostcivi- lizations"(i.e., regionalhierarchicalsocial forma- tions) or "primitive tribes" (small, egalitarian villages)inoneoranotherportionofAmazonia.Both were likely presentin some partsof the regionin 1492.FewspecialistsshareMeggers'soptimismthat we havetherequisitedatato generallyevaluatethe variabilityofPrecolumbiansocialandeconomicfor- mations. Understanding the past is a complex process,involvingmyriadperspectivesanddiverse analyticalproblems,archaeologicalandotherwise, whichwill notbe resolvedthroughappealto estab- lished(buttypicallyuntested)orthodoxy,muchless throughhyperboleor allusionto out-datedmyths and shopworn cliches. As our understanding improvesovertime,we areoptimisticthatthetype of constructivedialogueandarchaeologicalknow- ledgethatcantrulyimpactviews on suchthingsas economic development,long-termsustainability, bio-diversity,and indigenous rights will become available. References Cited Anderson,Anthony.B. (editor) lsso Alternativesto Deforestation:Steps TowardSustain- able Useof theAmazonForest.ColumbiaUniversityPress,
  7. 7. Wust,Lrmhild 1990 Continuidadee mudan,ca:paraumainterpreta,caodos gruposceramistasdabaciado RioVermelho.Ph.D.disser- tation,Universidadede SaoPaulo,SaoPaulo. Wust,Irmhild,andCristianaBarreto 1999 The RingVillagesof CentralBrazil:A Challengefor AmazonianArchaeology. LatinAmericanArchaeology 10:3-23. Notes 1.TheSetordeArqueologiaof theMPEGhasflourishedin the 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, like AgutubaandtheUpperXingusites, anda prehistoriccemetery of severalhundredurnsrecentlydiscovered(anddestroyed)in ourstudyareanearManaus. 4. Perusalof fieldreportsby manyPRONAPABAprojects inthearchivesof theMPEG,indicatethatmanysuchdataarein fact lackingor were only minimallyrecordedfor numerous,if notthemajority,of thesitesidentified. 5. Meggersstatesthat"[i]nthe initialseriationconstructed by Simoes . . . the PajuraandApuauphases were combined (Simoes and Kalkman1987, Figure 3),"but, in fact, Simoes originallyseparatedApuaufromPajuraandonly laterrejected the separation:"anotherstratigraphiccut (cut 3) [was con- ducted] to try to resolve problemsof stratigraphy[at Santa Rosa] and the inclusionin the ApuauPhase of materialtem- peredwithsponge-spicule,thenconsidered(Simoes 1974)as an independentphase (PajuraPhase)"(Simoes 1983:2, authors' translation). 6. Elevated "curbs"alongside causeways were areas of refuseaccumulationand,thus,surfacecollectionunitsthatover- lap these ridges often produce large quantitiesof ceramics, which may appearon the small-scale maps as lying within roads.At thesiteof Kuhikugu,road2 wasabandonedprehistor- icallyandre-occupationof portionsof thesite(includingroad5 andthe centralplazaandadjacentareasof all roads),afterthe sitewasabandonedc. 165>1850, by laterXinguanovillages(c. 186s1960) resultedinconsiderableaccumulationsof relatively recentsurfaceceramicsin theseareas. 7. Suggestingthatthesevillagesrepresent"vacant"centers, as Meggersseemsto do, is incorrect,althoughsuchsupra-local integrationmayoccurin some areas. 8.TheplazaconfigurationofA,cutabawasapparentlyinplace by c. A. D. 1 or earlier,but this remainsto be demonstated. Researchconductedunderthe principaldirectionof Eduardo Nevesin 1999revealedthecircularplazavillageof Osvaldo(dat- ing to as earlyas the late firstmillenniumB.C.), largeartificial moundsatothersitesin thestudyarea,andevenmorestructural elaborationof theA,cutubasitethanpreviouslyrecognized. SubmittedMarch5, 2001; acceptedMarch11, 2001; revised March21, 2001 COMMENTS 333 1992 Archaeologyin the HydroelectricProjects of Elec- tronorte:PreliminaryResults.Electronorte,Brasilia. Neves,EdllardoGoes 1998 PathsthroughDarkWaters:ArchaeologyasIndigenous HistoryintheUpperRioNegro,NorthwestAmazon.Ph.D. dissertation,Departmentof Anthropology,IndianaUniver- sity,Bloomington. 1999 ChangingPerspectivesinAmazonianArchaeology.In Archaeologyin LatinAmerica,editedby GustavoG. Poli- tisandBenjaminAlberti,pp.21S243. Routledge,London. Oberg,Kalervo 1953 IndianTribesofMatoGrosso,Brazil.InstituteofSocial Anthropology,SmithsonianInstitution,Publication 15, Washington,D.C. Petersen,JamesB., EduardoGoesNeves, andMichaelJ.Heck- enberger 2001 Gift from the Past: Terra Preta and Prehistoric AmerindianOccupationinAmazonia.InTheUnknownAma- zon, edited by Colin McEwan, Cristiana Barreto, and EduardoG.Neves.BritishMuseumPress,London,inpress. Roosevelt,AnnaC. 1999 The Developmentof PrehistoricComplexSocieties: Amazonia,A TropicalForest.In ComplexSocietiesin the AncientTropicalWorld,editedby ElisabethA. Bacus and Lisa J. Lucero,pp. 13-34. ArchaeologicalPapersof the AmericanAnthropologicalAssociation,No. 9. Arlington, VA. Sanchez,PedroA., DaleE. Bandy,JorgeH.Villachica,andJohn J.Nicholaides 1982 AmazonBasinSoils:ManagementforContinuousCrop Production.Science216:598403. Simoes,MarioF. 1970 Pesquisasarqueologicasno baixo Rio Negro (Projeto Rio Negro). 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