Agricultural and Social Earthworks in the Guianas

  • Stéphen RostainEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_3039-1

State of Knowledge and Current Debates

For few years, pre-Columbian agriculture in Amazonia begins to be better understood, thanks to more accurate studies, exempt of the classical, and too simple dichotomy between the poor interfluvial lands and the fertile floodplains. William Denevan (2001) published a useful synthesis on indigenous agriculture in South America outlining that farming patterns observed today are likely to be very different from those that existed before the European Conquest and the introduction of iron tools. In fact, many pre-Columbian agricultural techniques do not exist anymore today in the region. For that reason, ethnographical analogy is not very useful to understand them. Other data must be taken into consideration.

Pre-Columbian Amerindians transformed deeply the Amazon, whether the vegetal cover, the topsoil, the nature of the sediments, and even the modeling of soil. These changes, volunteers or not, were observed in the first place by geographers,...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), UMR 8096 “Archaeology of the Americas”ParisFrance

Section editors and affiliations

  • Dorian Q. Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK