Anna Curtenius RooseveltThe Rise and Fall of the Amazon ChiefdomsIn: LHomme, 1993, tome 33 n°126-128. pp. 255-283.Citer ce document / Cite this document :Roosevelt Anna Curtenius. The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms. In: LHomme, 1993, tome 33 n°126-128. pp. 255-283.doi : 10.3406/hom.1993.369640http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/hom_0439-4216_1993_num_33_126_369640
2 SSAnna Curtenius RooseveltThe Rise and Fall of the Amazon ChiefdomsAnna Curtenius Roosevelt, The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms. — Cumulativeevidence from archaeology and ethnohistory shows greater variety and complexityamong Amazonian Indian societies of the prehistoric and contact periods than existtoday. The ancestors of living Indians traveled a long cultural history from early foragers who hunted with fine stone points and made rock paintings, to innovative pottery-age fisherpeople and horticulturalists, and finally to the populous, wealthy, and powerfulchiefdoms of late prehistory. This history was truncated and impoverished whenEuropeans invaded and relegated Indians to ecological and societal marginality.Indigenous Social Development in AmazoniaAmazonia has often been portrayed as a resource-poor environment thatlimited the development of indigenous complex societies1. The life-ways of recent Amazonian Indians, who live in small groups subsistingon shifting cultivation and foraging, were seen as cultural adaptations to thehumid tropical environment. Archaeological or documentary evidence for large-scale native complex societies was either dismissed or attributed to short-livedintrusions from Andean or Mesoamerican civilizations.Quite a different picture of Amazonia is beginning to emerge from newfieldwork and restudy of older work. As a habitat for indigenous humandevelopment, Amazonia seems richer and more variable than before. Plentifulresources for human subsistence are found in several areas: large flood-plains, extensive coasts and estuaries, and uplands with volcanics or limestone.In such areas, the emerging human developmental sequence appears much longerand more complex than earlier conceptions allowed, including occupations bylate Pleistocene hunter-gatherers with developed lithic technology and rock art,some of the earliest sedentary settlement, ceramics, and horticulture in the NewWorld, and, in late prehistory, populous indigenous societies of substantial scaleand complexity.LHomme 126-128, avr.-déc. 1993, XXXIII (2-4), pp. 255-283.
256 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTThe new information about the relationship of environment, economy, andsocial development has general theoretical significance for anthropology, as wellas for Amazonian studies, and offers practical considerations for future developmentin the humid tropics.Early Hunting-Gathering SocietiesScattered evidence for a widespread early human occupation in the Amazonbasin and its environs during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene is foundin caves, rocksheiters, and shellmounds.Even the scarce finds so far give evidence for an early sequence of considerablecomplexity, comprising Paleo-Indian, preceramic Archaic, and initial ceramicArchaic cultures2. What is important about early hunter-gatherer societies ofAmazonia is that they were not necessarily primitive in technology or aesthetics.Amazonian Paleoindians made some of the largest and finest bifacially pressure-flaked projectile points known from the Americas and painted a huge corpusof spectacular polychrome rock art. The subsistence remains from the earlyhunter-gatherers document a wide range of economies, from specialized huntingof large aquatic and land game to intensive, broad-spectrum harvesting of smallerfaunal species and plants. Similarities between artifacts in some areas indicatelong-distance travel, trade, or communication. Early Archaic peoples madeless formal stone tools than earlier peoples but their pottery was the earliestin the Americas. Archaic occupation sites indicate relatively large and permanentsettlements, with large middens of many hectares, depths of one to six meters,and foundations of sizable structures. Future study of such sites is neededto investigate their organization and history.The early hunting-gathering occupations in Amazonia do not particularlyresemble the living Amazonian Indians supposed to represent the survival ofancient foragers. Peoples such as the Siriono and Guajibo speakers3, forexample, differ significantly from ancient ones, in art, which lacks the elaboratepainting, technology, which lacks the fine stone points and often pottery, andin subsistence, which invariably includes abundant cultivated plants. Thesedifferences and the fact that the small camps of modern "foragers" often occuron large prehistoric earth mounds with elaborate pottery, carbonized maize,and the remains of large permanent structures show that these peoples do notrepresent the cultures of ancient foragers4. Rather, they are decimated, de-culturated, and displaced populations that were part of late prehistoric complexsocieties destroyed during the European conquest.Theories about the nature of human foraging societies and ecological adaptationsto tropical habitats need to address the archaeological evidence, as wellas recent ethnographic evidence. Otherwise, our interpretations will be distorted by unacknowledged effects of the expansion of chiefdorn and colonialsocieties on indigenous societies.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 257Early Horizon HorticulturalistsBy 1000 B.C., there appeared in Greater Amazonia a series of cultures seemingly similar to those of present-day Amazonian horticulturalists. They markthe appearance of the earliest known elaborately decorated pottery complexesin South America and possibly the spread of village horticulture through thelowlands. The descendants of peoples of these cultures appear to haveestablished the earliest known complex societies in Amazonia about 100 B.C.During this period, settlements proliferate, and supraregional lowland horizonstyles of elaborate geometric-zoomorphic imagery develop5. Elaborationsoccur in zoomorphic modeling, geometric incision, and, in some areas, red orred and white painting. Decoration of zoned hachure predominates in the western, central and southern Amazon and modeling and red and white paintingare more common in the Orinoco and Guianas. The predominant vessel shapeis the open bowl, although griddles, composite-silhouette bottles, pipes, andother shapes also occur in some styles. Temper varies and includes shell, grit,sherds, and/or, in some later styles, sponge-spicules.Most recognizable representations in the art are animals, sometimes anthropomorphized. In Amazonia today, this iconography is associated with a cosmologythat relates animal abundance and human fertility with shamanistic propitiation of spiritual "Masters" of the game animals6, a supernatural being thatthe rare humanized animals in the ancient might represent. Other than theart and the possible drug paraphernalia, ritual complexes are poorlyknown. Few burials or other ceremonial features have been excavated, andthe stratigraphy and layout of sites is poorly documented.The early "Horizons" of decorated pottery have considerable geographicand temporal overlap, causing difficulties in attempts to cross-date them. Thestyles with red and white painting and modeling and incision are the earliestdated styles so far, perhaps between c. 2000-800 B.C. in the Orinoco Basin.Styles lacking that painting develop between the time of Christ and A.D. 500in the Orinoco. In the Amazon proper, the earliest hachure seems to begin1500 B.C., but stratigraphie relationships and associations of the dates areunclear. By about 500 B.C., hached styles drop out in the Upper and MiddleAmazon, leaving a predominance of plain incision.It is not known whether the cultures of these horizons were developed conver-gently from earlier complexes by the interaction of local people, or if the newpatterns diffused by mass migration and replacement of the localpopulations. With more work, it will be possible to compare changes in skeletaland dental genetics and physiology with the patterns of cultural change throughtime, in order to assess the applicability of the different explanations.When the early horizon styles appeared, subsistence economies of Amazoniaapparently shifted away from primary reliance on foraging game, to a combinationof cultivation and foraging. The subsistence of the early horizons is poorlydocumented, because archaeologists have only recently started to employ
258 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTpaleodietary methods in the lowlands. Subsistence of the La Gruta traditionphases of sites in the Middle Orinoco in Venezuela may shed light on theproblem7. The sites contained numerous 7-9 mm long flint chips and abundantthick ceramic griddles such as those used for processing manioc today inAmazonia. Though tree fruits were recovered, there were no seeds of cropssuch as maize or beans. Accordingly, it is thought that subsistence was basedon cultivation of root crops and hunting and fishing. A few small stemmedquartz projectile points (made by percussion flaking) have been found, andfauna including fish, aquatic mammals, turtle, and large terrestrial mammalsand birds. The stable isotope pattern of human bones from the end of thisoccupation are consistent with, though not limited to, a diet of manioc, fish,and game.Sites, often situated on the banks of present-day rivers and lakes, are smallerthan Archaic sites, in the range of one to several hectares, with refuse accumulationsof .5 to 1 m thickness, indicating appreciable stability of settlement, exceptat dry-season fishing camps. It may be that the development of a new economyincluding cultivation permitted an expansion of permanent settlement into awider area than was previously possible, leading to the existence of morenumerous but smaller sites.Thus it is possible that the lowland tropical forest system of swidden manioccultivation, fishing, and hunting had taken shape in Greater Amazonia by thistime. Parallels with current lifeways are the importance of root over seedcropping, the reliance on faunal protein, emphasis on animal art styles, andsettlement in modest, dispersed villages. But there is nonetheless a majordiscontinuity between the early prehistoric and recent ethnographic versionsof this lifeway. This way of life actually disappeared from many areas duringthe first and second millennia A.D. when populations increased, agricultureintensified, and complex cultures appeared. It only came back into importancein Amazonia after the dislocations and population losses that occurred duringthe European Conquest.The history of the swidden-horticultural/foraging economy in Amazoniais a clue to the conditions that made it viable: low population density and lackof intense competition over land and resources. As an adaptative complex,the importance of this subsistence system seems to have been to produce abundantcalories so that faunal resources could be used for protein needs. Its disappearance during the period of population expansion in late prehistoric timesmay be related to the inability of the horticultural complex to exploit soil nutrientsfor the production of protein at a lower trophic level, through plants. Forthat, the cultivation had to shift from an emphasis on starchy root crops toseed crops. But since intensive annual cultivation is highly labor intensive,subsistence would have shifted back to root swiddening when Amazonian Indianpopulations were decimated after conquest and chiefdorn political systems weredestroyed.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 259Indigenous Complex SocietiesBetween 1000 B.C. and 1000 A.D. significant changes occurred in the size,organization, and functions of indigenous societies in some areas of Amazonia.Transformations occurred in craft production, economy, demography, and socialand political forms, leading to the conclusion that along the mainstreams, deltas,and piedmonts of Amazonia, there came into being that anthropologists callcomplex chiefdoms.The historical accounts and archaeological remains document the presenceof these complex societies along the Amazon and Orinoco rivers and the foothillsof the Andes and Caribbean ranges. The domains of these societies were verylarge, sometimes tens of thousands of square kilometers in size, and these weresometimes unified under paramount chiefs. Populations were densely aggregated,and some settlements held many thousands of people. There was large-scale building of earthworks for water control, agriculture, habitation, transport,and defence. Reportedly warlike and expansionist, some societies had hierarchical social organization supported by tribute and subsistence based on intensivecropping and foraging. Crafts were highly developed for ceremony and tradeand linked by widespread styles emphasizing human images in addition to thetraditional animals and geometries, and there was a widespread cult of worshipof the bodies and idols of chiefly ancestors. Within 100-200 years of conquest,however, the complex societies and their populations had vanished from the majorfloodplains and piedmonts, and nothing even remotely like them is found amongthe present indigenous societies of Amazonia. The complex societies lack ofrepresentation among present-day indigenous societies in Amazonia led at firstto a general lack of recognition among scholars that they had existed8. Whenindubitable evidence was later found in archaeological finds and ethnohistoricdocuments, the presence of such societies in the "tropical forest" were attributedto influence or invasions from the Andes9. However, the results of work todate do not support a foreign origin for these societies, whose earliest forms arefound in the eastern lowlands of Brazil, not near the Andes. Their origin musttherefore be sought in local processes of demographic and economic growth,competition, and sociopolitical interaction.Amazonian Chiefdoms in Historical AccountsThe records of the conquest period of Amazonia, from the mid sixteenththrough eighteenth centuries, found in commentaries, transcriptions, facsimiles,and translations10 give a picture of the late prehistoric and early historic complexsocieties.According to the records, the Indians were very densely settled along the banksand floodplains of the major rivers. Quantitative estimates vary, but it seemsclear that along much of the mainstream Amazon, settlement was continuous
260 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTand permanent, and the larger settlements held from several thousands to tensof thousands of individuals or more. Unlike today, settlements at that timeseem to have been embedded within large cultural and political territories withallegiance to paramount chiefs claiming divine origine and elaborate sumptuaryrights to emblems of office, certain resources and valuables, litters, and personalservice. The organization of the societies seems in some cases to have been rankedor stratified in socio-political hierarchies composed of regional and local chiefs,nobles, commoners, and subordinate individuals such as servants, client foragersand farmers, and captive slaves. Societies engaged in military conquest witha pattern of conflict that included large-scale organized warfare for defense andconquest in addition to the raiding to revenge or capture of women, the mostcommon form of indigenous conflict today.The economies of these societies were, unlike those of present AmazonianIndians, complex and large-scale, including intensive food production of seedand root crops in both mono- and polycultural fields, intensive hunting and fishing,and long-term storage. There was considerable investment in substantial permanentfacilities, such as turtle corrals, fish weirs, and permanent agriculturalfields. Agriculture emphasized clear-cultivation and annual cropping more thanslash-and-burn, the main method today. In many of the chiefdoms, maize, ratherthan manioc, was the staple plant. Artifacts were produced on a large scale,and quantities of high quality decorated pottery and fabrics, as well as varioustools, edibles, and raw materials, were traded over long distances. There seemto have been locations that functioned like markets, where intensive trading wascarried on periodically. Strings of disc beads, usually of shell, were widely usedas a medium of exchange, and semi-precious stone ornaments, such as greenstones,were part of a system of elite gift-giving.Regular community religious ceremonies were supplied with maize beer furnished from tribute by tithes, accompanied with music, and dancing. In the lowerAmazon, several major polities had societal religious ideologies enhancing theposition of elites through the worship of deified ancestors, often female, in whosename tribute was given. The mummies and painted images of the chiefs ancestorswere curated along with stone images of deities and ritual paraphernalia in specialstructures and refurbished for circulation during periodic ceremonies. There werespecialists in charge of the religious houses and ceremonies, and also diviners andcurers. Although women were not allowed to view certain ceremonies, high-rankingfemale town chiefs and ritual specialists are mentioned. The sources also mentionthe custom of matrilineal chiefly genealogy and rank endogamy for noble women.In a number of the societies observed at contact, both girls and boys were subjected to initiation ordeals and rituals considered as inductions to high rank.Though by their nature, ethnohistoric accounts do not furnish definitiveevidence of social and political organization or reliable quantitative informationabout subsistence or demography, the sources for Greater Amazonia contain indisputable evidence of large-scale, very populous regional societies comparableto complex chiefdoms and small states known in other parts of the world.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 261Late Prehistoric Horizon CulturesThe archaeological record of Amazonia also gives evidence of complexsocieties along the river floodplains and piedmonts in late prehistoric times. Themillennium before the conquest is characterized by widespread true horizonstyles such as the Polychrome Horizon and the Incised and PunctateHorizon. Both horizons are distantly related to the earlier sloping horizonsand continue the ancient lowland pattern of incised-rim bowls and rimFig. 1. Marajoara polychrome effigy urn from Guajara mound, Marajo Island, Para State, Brazil.C. A.D. 500-700, 29 cm diameter.Goeldi Museum. Drawing by K. Van Dyke.
262 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTadernos. Both also include important new shapes, subjects, and decorativestyles, such as burial urns, human effigies, and complex three-color painting.The Polychrome Horizon is characterized by pottery decorated mainly withelaborate stylized geometric patterns executed in painting (usually red, black,and white) and incision, excision, and modeling (fig. 1 et 2). Examples oflocal styles are Marajoara of the mouth of the Amazon11, Guarita of theMiddle Amazon12, both in Brazil, Caimito of the Upper Amazon in Peru13,Napo of the Upper Amazon in Ecuador14, and Araracuara of the Caqueta inthe Colombian Amazon15.The Incised and Punctate Horizon pottery styles have abundant modeledornaments and dense incision and punctation. Local phases of the horizonare Santarem of the Lower Amazon16, Itacoatiara of the Middle Amazon17,Fig. 2. Incised and modeled Marajoara zoomorphic burial urnfrom Os Camutins mound group, c. A.D. 500-700. University of Pennsylvania Museum.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 263both in Brazil, the late prehistoric culture of Faldas de Sangay in the EcuadorianAmazon18, Hertenrits of Surinam19, Camoruco and Arauquin of the MiddleOrinoco20, and Valencia of the Caribbean coast range21, all in Venezuela.The late prehistoric horizons spread rapidly over territories comparable insize to those of chief doms described in the historic accounts, a processtraditionally interpreted by anthropologists as evidence of the expansion ofconquest chiefdoms or states. Within the horizons there seems to have beencontinuing interregional stylistic communication during much of the late prehistoric period, possibly produced by a network of alliances, intermarriage,and war among the elites of regional cultures.Artifacts: Function and IconographyThe occupation sites of the Amazonian chiefdoms contain an abundanceof artifacts and other remains. The most abundant are ceramic sherds andvessels of the horizon styles22. There must have been a high rate of productionof artifacts, which have been recovered by the thousands, despite the smallamount of excavation that has yet been done. The magnitude of archaeologicalproduction parallels ethnohistoric evidence for intensive craft production andtrade.Material culture in the chiefdoms seems to have been very complex, andmany different kinds of artifacts have been found: pottery vessels, effigies (fig. 3),drug paraphernalia, musical instruments, stools, whorls, stamps, stools, pubiccovers (fig. 4), stone cutting tools, shaft-straighteners, grinders, pounders,abraders, and ornaments of jade and other semiprecious rocks. The presenceof numerous igneous rock items in sites in purely sedimentary basins testifiesto the long-distance trade of lithics. Studies of material trace-elements andisotopes are needed to trace the extent and history of long-distance trade inlithics and pottery. Spindle whorls increase in numbers and types, suggestingincreasing scale and complexity of textile production. The soils occupied bymany chiefdoms are often of clayey, high pH types considered good cottonsoils, and production of this fiber may have been an important industry.The iconography of the horizon styles may give additional evidence of thenature of the ancient societies organization, economies, and religion. Theart of the late prehistoric styles has an emphasis of the human image not foundearlier. Though animals are common, humans are usually larger, more centralimages. The human image may have become more important when intensiveagriculture made labor and land valuable and their control a factor requiringideological justification. It is often found in mortuary contexts and may relateto elite ancestral mortuary cults such as those mentioned by the conquistadors.Male images, which are much rarer than females, are mainly representedas shaman/chiefs, on stools, carrying rattles, wearing special hats and shoulderbags, and as alter ego figures with an animal on their shoulders. A concept
264 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTFig. 3. Phallic figurine rattle from Marajo.Height 20 cm. After Nordenskiold 1930.Fig. 4. Marajoara polychrome pubic cover of tanga. 14 cm.American Museum of Natural History. Drawing by Kimberly van Dyke.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 265of hierarchy and subordination may be discerned in the imagery representingsmall human figures as appendages or supports to large ones. Other than thechief/shaman images, males seldom appear in the art, except as disembodiedgenital images in the phallic female figurines, and female images are much morecommon. The prevalence of women in the art of Lower Amazon phases suchas Santarem and Marajoara (70-90%) might relate to the reckoning of chieflydescent from mythical female ancestors, as mentioned in the historicaccounts. In the ancient art of the earlier chiefdoms, women, like men, areshown on stools, with shamanistic symbols, and as alter ego figures, althoughwomen shaman are rare today, and women are usually forbidden to sit on ritualstools, considered the prerogative of political leaders and shaman. Later, theyare shown more commonly offering food or holding children. The changingrole of females in prehistoric Amazonian art through time suggests a changein gender ideology and possibly gender roles during the sociopolitical transitionsgoing on in the Amazon floodplains in late prehistoric times.Habitat and EconomyThe archaeological phases of the late prehistoric horizon styles seem to occurin characteristic kinds of biomes, such as the piedmonts and major floodplainsof rivers carrying sediment eroded from the mountains. The major mound-building complexes are found in the broadest expanses of recent alluvium, inthe plains of the Bolivian Amazon, the Apure Delta of the Middle Orinoco,Guiana coastal plains, and Marajo Island at the mouth of the Amazon (fig. 5).The archaeological phases of the resource-poor interfluvial areas of the regionseem to lack the cultural complexity and magnitude of the floodplain phaseswith certain important exceptions. The exceptions are the interfluvial regionsdistinguished by geological deposits that have enriched local soils with nutrients,such as the Caribbean Coastal range in Venezuela, and the Andean foothillsin the Upper Amazon and western Orinoco. Little work has been done inthe interfluves, however, and there is still the possibility that anthropologistshave found more substantial archaeological remains along the main rivers andAndean foothills only because these areas are more accessible for research. Toinvestigate the role of environmental factors in the rise of lowland complexsocieties, it will be important in the future to compare the prehistoric occupationof a variety of regions.Anthropologists have often assumed that the manioc, fish, game patternof indigenous subsistence today was also the major exploitation system of theentire prehistoric period. However, this idea was based on the assumptionthat the present ethnographic pattern is representative of the ancient patternand that the Amazonian environment was too poor for intensive agriculturalexploitation. What some of the new archaeological findings show is that manyof the late prehistoric societies of the floodplains of Amazonia had highly
266 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTWUfSKKí?.Fig. 5 . View of Marajo Island. Tall forest at center is growing on a cluster of prehistoric artifical mounds,the Monte Carmelo mound group. 1983.intensive agricultural subsistence systems. During the period of expandingpopulations and chiefdorn sociopolitical development, there was an increasingreliance on staple seed crops such as maize for both protein and calories anddecreasing consumption of starchy tropical root crops and fauna, the patternthat was more characteristic of the first two millennia before Christ. Thepresumed advantage of the seeds seems to have been the intensive exploitationof the richer soils for production of more storable starch and protein than couldbe produced by economies of root cropping and foraging. This pattern ofsubsistence change parallels economic processes that occurred during the lateprehistoric period in North America and in many parts of the Old World duringthe Neolithic Stage23.Although previous investigation has focused almost exclusively on ceramicand lithic remains, there is a very striking abundance and variety of prehistoricbiological remains that record ancient subsistence (fig. 6). Where these remainshave been collected, sites have produced thousands of animal bones and
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 267Fig. 6Prehistoric food remains at a Marajoara mound, Teso dos Bichos, a) Microscopic bones from smallfish, the mainstay of the diet, and b) vertebrum from Arapaima gigas, "pirarucu", from a specialcache. 6.5 cm. c) Carbonized seed of Euterpe oleraceae palm, "acai". 1.4 cm.identifiable plant remains24, produced significant information about subsistenceduring the development of the complex societies. Crops such as maize or Indiancorn appear to enter the subsistence systems of the floodplains of GreaterAmazonia during the first millennium B.C., when there is a rather rapid increasein size and number of archaeological sites. Stable isotope results and dentalpathologies of the late prehistoric people suggest that seed crops became quiteimportant between A.D. 500 and the conquest, and site sizes and numberscontinued to expand25. Faunal protein continues as a protein supplement, withaquatic faunal remains predominating greatly over terrestrial in the floodplains,presumably because of the high biomass and turnover rate of fish in this habitat,compared to terrestrial animals.In some areas, such as Marajo Island the collection and/or cultivation ofsmall-seed local floodplain grasses and chenopods may have preceded theadoption of maize26. This pattern may have begun soon after the time ofChrist there. Prehistoric skeletons and food remains dating between A.D. 400and 1100 indicate a cereal staple, supplemented with small fish, but the bonechemistry indicates levels of maize consumption at only 20 to 30% of the
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 269;:j:-VJ Gollery Foresti1Archaeological materialI* *1exposed at surface|L*y^ Archaeological mound0 Dry season river bedFig. 7. Marajoara mound sites at Os Camutins site.diet. The small seed economy may have been a local development, rather thana diffused economy, as it seems to have been in the prehistoric seed-croppingeconomy of the Southeastern United States.The late prehistoric subsistence patterns contrast with current Amazonianethnographic subsistence, which focuses on starchy crops supplemented withfish and game27. The dislocations and depopulation of the historic periodapparently brought a return to the less intensive root crop and animal captureeconomies of the early prehistoric period. The shifting cultivation, hunting,
270 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTGUAJARÁ MOUND/GENERAL AREAMarajo"Scale 1LocatioReferen[referei Dat-HouOata CoSurvey:CartogrProjectIsland,393.6-i: Lat.LongApprPara, Brazil Deçà»Contour Interval 25cmS 0°5705"X. 3000m at 341" fromCampo Limpo fazenda:e Eleviced tojt»lectionM.W. Pephy: MDirectotion: N100 E200-9.54mmean low water, Nov. 28, 19» Test Excavatbuildings: Topcon GTS-3/HP71Brry, L. Matthews, C. Miran"Í. Perry; Golden Softwarer: A.C. Roosevelter 198737=0]iondaFig. 8. Map of Marajoara mound at Guajara of the Monte Carmelo mound group,near Os Camutins, c. A.D. 500-1300.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 271Fig. 9. Superimposed house floors in looters pit at Camutins mound, Os Camutins site.and fishing subsistence of ethnographic Indians seems thus to be a return tothe way of life that existed in the Amazon before the development of the intensiveeconomies of the populous chiefdoms.Settlement PatternsAssociated with the spread of the late prehistoric horizon styles is a substantial increase in the size, number, and complexity of human occupation sitessoon after the time of Christ. Occupation sites are often several kilometerslong and densely packed with cultural and biological remains to depths of several
Fig. 10 aF/g. 10 b.F/g. 10. Baked clay cooking stoves at Teso dos Bichos, c. A.D. 800:a) top view; b) side view.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 273meters. Many floodplain occupation sites are artificial earthen mounds composed of numerous superimposed building stages and ruined earthen constructions(fig. 7-10). Though small, simple sites are the most numerous, many of thelarge sites appear to be complex, multi-function deposits, with special purposecraft areas, such as jewelry or stone tool manufacturing areas, ceremonial areas,defensive earthworks, cemeteries and mounds, domestic activity areas, and theremains of substantial domestic structures and facilities, such as dwellings andstoves. Only a few of these large, complex sites have yet been comprehensivelyinvestigated. Though most general sources refer to prehistoric Amazonian settlements as non-urban, the late prehistoric Amazonian archaeological sites andearthworks are unexpectedly substantial and complex.Large-scale mound-building cultures developed in several areas of GreaterAmazonia: the Llanos de Mojos and Chiquitos of the Bolivian Amazon28, theuplands of the Ecuadorian Amazon29, Marajo Island at the Mouth of theAmazon30, the coastal plain of the Guianas31, and the Middle Orinoco32.Many earthworks in these areas include raised and ditched fields, dikes, canals,wells, ponds, causeways, roads, and mounds for habitation and burial. Moundswere raised either by heaping up thick layers of soil from borrow pits or bythe gradual accumulation of refuse and ruined adobe buildings. Some of thehabitats of the mound cultures have deep seasonal flooding, and year-roundsettlements must be raised out of the water. However, many of these moundswere built up many meters higher than flood-levels of the time, which suggeststhat they may have been raised for defense or display. Little systematic surveyof earthworks has been done, and many have been covered up by sedimentationon the floodplains.The scale and extent of the Amazonian earthworks and occupation sitesare extraordinary. Many mounds are from 3 to 10 meters in height and severalhectares in area. Some multimound sites on Marajo Island are more than10 square kilometers in area with from 20 to 40 individual mounds, and a multi-mound site in the uplands of the Ecuadorian Amazon has an area of 12 squarekilometers. Even the archaeological sites produced only by accretion of livingrefuse make up an appreciable part of the landsurface along the Amazon andOrinoco riverbanks. These late prehistoric archaeological deposits are massiveand often continuous for miles and are densely packed with artifacts andcarbonized plant remains.The massive dwelling sites indicate a prehistoric occupation much moresubstantial and sedentary than the slight, nomadic occupation earlier envisionedfor Amazonia. Such sites cannot be explained as accretions from long periodsof sparse, shifting habitation, for the chronologies indicate that they accruedrapidly, with periods of several hundred years represented by several metersof refuse in some cases. In many regions these sites represent prehistoricpopulations that were apparently much larger c. A.D. 1500 than present-dayindigenous populations of Amazonia. According to hearth counts andcomparisons with world-wide averages of site area per population, not a few
274 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTAmazonian sites represent populations of several thousand and a few are largeenough to have had populations in the tens of thousands at least.Many large cemeteries with hundreds of burials have been found in habitationsites and mounds. The majority are spatially concentrated urn cemeteries, butsome earthen shaft tombs with stone covers with urn burials have been foundas well. The elaborate and varied burial assemblages in these cemeteries arethought to represent significant interpersonal differences in rank. Because ofprotection in the covered urns and the near-neutral pH of soil, human skeletalremains are commonly quite well-preserved33 (fig. 11). Few of them have beenrecorded or analyzed, but those in museums and private collections reveal highlydifferentiated populations with a range of age, sex, disease, physiologicalcondition, and bone chemistry. Despite the potential socioeconomic informationthe vast cemeteries could yield, no prehistoric Amazonian cemetery has yet beenstudied systematically by a physical anthropologist.Thus the scale and complexity of settlement and construction in the lateprehistoric societies of Greater Amazonia are more like societies identified ascomplex chiefdoms and "primitive" states elsewhere in the world than to thesettlements of the present Indians of Amazonia.The Rise and Fall of the Amazon ChiefdomsEarlier anthropologists projected the ethnographic picture of Amazonia intoprehistoric times as the characteristic adaptation to Amazonian environments. When more complex archaeological manifestations were recognised,these were interpreted as short-lived invasions from the Andean or Mesoamericancivilizations, which decayed rapidly in the tropical environment. The newarchaeological evidence, however, suggests the presence for more than a thousandyears of populous complex societies of indigenous origins, with urban-scale settlements, intensive subsistence and craft-production systems, and rituals andideologies linked to systems of social hierarchy and political centralization.The new information about Amazonian prehistory documents a sequenceof much more complex social, demographic, economic, and ecological changethan we had realized. The evidence for early cultural innovations in Amazonia,such as initial pottery and sedentism, and horticulture, suggests that our previousnotions of geography of indigenous cultural development in South Americaneed to be revised. The discovery of correlations between the developmentof complex cultures and significant shifts in demography and subsistence preparesthe way for understanding these cultures in both ecological and historical context.Given the widespread occurrence of such societies and their long-termpersistence, it seems unlikely that the habitat was too poor to support them,and, indeed, environmental studies suggest that there were plentifulresources. Their demise, instead, seems correlated with the European conquestof the Americas. The conquerors defeated the native chiefdoms and replaced
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 275Fig. 11. Male cranium with cribra orbitalia anemia pathology, from Marajo Island.The bun-shaped occiput is a morphological feature common in Amazonian populations.Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro.
276 ANNA CURTENIUS ROOSEVELTtheir political and military complexes. Surviving native sociopolitical formationsbecame geared to resistance, subservience, or isolation. In what had been heavilypopulated areas, native populations were decimated, which essentially removedthe necessity of intensive land use. Ranching and specialized extraction replacedagriculture and horticulture in many areas, and numerous Indian groups wererelegated to resource-poor areas not appropriate for intensive land use.The lifeways of living Amazonian Indians can therefore be seen as adaptationsnot only to the environment but also to their changing demography and relationshipswith other societies. Without taking the complexity of such interactionsinto consideration, we cannot adequately explain the nature and history of nativeAmazonian societies.Field Museum of Natural Historyand University of Illinois, ChicagoNOTES1. Meggers 1954, 1971; Steward 1949.2. Boomert 1980a; Bryan 1978, 1983; Bryan et al. 1978; Evans & Meggers 1960; Miller 1987;Roosevelt 1989a, 1989b, 1991, and n.d.; Roosevelt et al. 1991, 1992; Schmitz 1987, 1991; Simoes1976, 1981.3. Holmberg 1969; Hurtado & Hill 1991.4. Roosevelt, n.d.5. Boomert 1983; Meggers & Evans 1961, 1983; Lathrap 1970; Cruxent & Rouse 1958-1959;Roosevelt 1980; Rouse & Cruxent 1963; Rouse & Allaire 1978.6. Reichel-Dolmatoff 1971.7. Roosevelt 1980; Van der Merwe et al. 1981.8. Steward 1949.9. e.g. Meggers & Evans 1957.10. e.g. Bettendorf 1910; de Heriarte 1964; Daniel 1840-1841; Palmatary 1950, 1960; Fritz 1922;Markham 1859; Myers 1973, 1974; Rowe, ed., 1952; Denevan 1966, 1976; Meggers 1971;Lathrap 1970; Acuna 1891; Gumilla 1955; Medina, ed., 1934; Carvajal 1892; Castellanos1955; Bezerra de Meneses 1972; Morey Í975; Porro 1989; other references summarized inRoosevelt 1980, 1987.11. Meggers & Evans 1957; Roosevelt 1991.12. Hilbert 1968.13. Lathrap 1970; Weber 1975.14. Evans & Meggers 1968.15. Herrera et al. 1983; Eden et al. 1984.16. Palmatary 1960; Bezerra de Meneses 1972.17. Hilbert 1959, 1968.18. Athens 1989; Porras 1987.19. Boomert 1976, 1980b.20. Petrullo 1939; Roosevelt 1980, 1992.21. Kidder 1944.
The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 27722. Rouse & Cruxent 1963; Nordenskiold 1924a, 1930; Lathrap 1970; Meggers 1947; Meggers& Evans 1957, 1961, 1983; Hilbert 1968; Palmatary 1950, 1960; Roosevelt 1980, 1991, 1992.23. Cohen & Armelagos, eds., 1984.24. Roosevelt 1980, 1984, 1989a, 1989b; Roosevelt et al. 1991; Wing, Garson & Simons, n.d.;Garson 1980; Smith & Roosevelt, n.d.25. Van der Merwe et al. 1981; Roosevelt 1989a.26. Brochado ; Roosevelt 1991, Tabl. 6. 7.27. Hames & Vickers, eds., 1983.28. Erickson 1980; Nordenskiold 1913, 1916, 1924a, 1924b; Denevan 1966.29. Porras 1987.30. Derby 1879; Meggers & Evans 1957; Roosevelt 1991.31. Boomert 1976, 1980b.32. Castellanos 1955; Cruxent 1952, 1966; Rouse & Cruxent 1963; Cruxent & Rouse 1958-1959;Devenan & Zucchi 1978.33. Greene .BIBLIOGRAPHYAcuna, C. de1891 Nuevo descubrimiento del gran río de las Amazonas. Colección de livros que tratan de Americararos o curiosos, Tomo 2. Madrid. (1st ed. 1641).Athens, J. S.1989 "Pumpuentsa and the Pastaza Phase in Southeastern Lowland Ecuador", Nawpa Pacha 24: 1-29.Betendorf, Joao Felippe1910 "Chronica da Missao dos padres da Companhia de Jesus no estado do Maranhao", Revistado Instituto Geográfico a Histórico 72 (1). Rio de Janeiro.Bezerra de Meneses, U.1972 Arqueología Amazónica (Santarem). Säo Paulo, Museu de Arqueología e Etnología,Universidade de Säo Paulo.Boomert, A.1976 "Precolumbian Raised Fields in Coastal Surinam", Proceedings of the Sixth InternationalCongress for the Study of the Pre-Columbian Cultures of the Lesser Antilles, Guadeloupe,1975: 134-144.1980a "The Sipaliwini Archaeological Complex of Surinam: A Summary", Niew West-Indische Gids54 (2): 94-107.1980b "Hertenrits: An Arauquinoid Complex in North West Suriname (Part 1)", Journal ofArchaeology and Anthropology 3 (2): 68-1-4. Georgetown.1983 "The Saladoid Occupation of Wonotobo Falls, Western Surinam", Proceedings of the NinthInternational Congress of the Study of the Pre-Columbian Cultures of the Lesser Antilles.Montreal: 97-120.Brochado, J. P. The Social Ecology of the Marajoara Culture. Unpublished MA Thesis, Anthropology. University of Illinois, Urbana.
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The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Chiefdoms 283RÉSUMÉAnna Curtenius Roosevelt, Développement et disparition des chefferies amazoniennes.— Les données de larchéologie et de Pethnohistoire montrent que les sociétés indigènesamazoniennes étaient bien plus élaborées et différenciées, dans les temps précolombiens,quelles ne le sont aujourdhui. Des industries lithiques raffinées et des gravures rupestresdes anciens chasseurs-cueilleurs aux traditions céramiques novatrices des premières sociétésriveraines et horticoles, puis à lémergence des chefferies puissantes, riches et densémentpeuplées de la préhistoire tardive, le parcours historique des Amérindiens des basses terresa été long et complexe. Cette trajectoire a été tronquée puis appauvrie par linvasion européenne qui a relégué les Indiens dans la marginalité écologique et sociale.RESUMENAnna Curtenius Roosevelt, Desarrollo y desaparición de las jefacturas amazónicas. —Los datos de la arqueología y la etnohistoria muestran como en la época precolombina,las sociedades indígenas amazónicas estaban mucho mas elaboradas y diferenciadas que hoy.De las refinadas industrias líticas y los gravados rupestres de los antiguos cazadores-recolectoresa las tradiciones de cerámica innovadoras de las primeras sociedades ribereñas y hortícolas,luego a la emergencia de las jefacturas ricas y densamente pobladas de la prehistoria tardia,la evolución histórica de los Amerindios de las tierras bajas ha sido larga y compleja. Estatrayectoria fue trocada y empobrecida por la invasión europea, la cual relegó a los Indiosa la marginalidad ecológica y social.