An interdisciplinary approach to the Cedro archaeological site, Lower Amazon

2019-08-28T02:42:02Z (GMT) by Joanna Troufflard Daiana Travassos Alves

Abstract The Santarém region served as the cradle for the development of one of the largest Amazonian societies during late pre-colonial times. The inhabitants of the region, described in colonial chronicles as “Tapajó,” occupied a large area south of the Santarém site, which was considered the socio-political center of this society. Permanent and autonomous settlements were established on the Belterra plateau, including the Cedro site (30 km from the Santarém site). This work uses the analysis of the Cedro site to explore two themes that have emerged from the historical/ecological framework: the interdisciplinary method and the long-term perspective. Using analysis of ceramics, stone, geochemical, and archaeobotanical analysis, we describe four areas used by the inhabitants: (1) a food preparation area that was also a ceramic workshop, (2) an area where vessels were buried, (3) a ritual pit, and (4) an artificial pond. Comparing the archaeological context with the long-term use of the space reveals the presence of both terra preta and ponds on the Belterra plateau that are still used by residents there. These findings allow us to reflect on possible functions of terra preta and ponds during precolonial times, as well as the continuation of ancient practices in the modern day.