jeudi, mars 17, 2005

Highlights from FAPESP MAG


FAPESP MAG (full name Revista Pesquisa Fapesp or Fapesp Research Magazine) has published two interesting articles about recent archaeological discoveries that are reshaping the previous views on the History of South-American Peoples before the arrival of the first Europeans. These articles are now available online in English, though the most interesting illustrations can be found only in its paper edition.


FAPESP MAG 105 (Nov/2004)
Paintings and engravings reveal the diversity of shapes and styles of Brazilian rock art

Written in a simple language that is accessible to non-specialists, two recent books, from which the images described above have been extracted, attach central importance to Brazilian rupestral art. In other works, this kind of archaeological finding is often considered no more important than fossils of even more ancient animals, artifacts, or even skeletons of Homo sapiens.
The publications show the diversity of techniques, forms and themes exhibited by the prehistoric graphic activity in two areas of the national territory, the Northeast and the Amazon. The rock paintings are a gateway to the knowledge of life in Prehistory, but they should be observed from a perspective that allows us to go beyond what is shown, without unfounded interpretations writes Anne-Marie. The major issues, which concern the present-day society, are, in part, the same that concerned social groups in prehistoric eras. Published at the end of last year by Fumdham, and sponsored by Petrobras, the book about the archaeological sites of Serra da Capivara is an abundantly illustrated trilingual journey � written in Portuguese, French and English � to the lost world of the ancient inhabitants that, one day, inhabited the 130,000 hectares of the park.


FAPESP MAG #92 (Oct/2003)

Contrarily to what used to be said, Brazil had complex societies before the arrival of the Europeans
Recent archaeological discoveries in at least two different spots of Brazilian Amazonia suggest that the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas were not the only ones to have a monopoly of complex societies at the time Christopher Columbus the navigator disembarked. In the last few years, intensive field work carried out by Brazilian and foreign researchers in the Upper Xingu, in the north of Mato Grosso, and at the confluence of the Negro and Solim�es rivers (some 30 kilometers from Manaus, in the state of Amazonas), had indicated the existence of great and refined human settlements, inhabited simultaneously by several thousands of persons in these areas, 500 years ago, or even before that.The most spectacular evidence of populational density of this magnitude, which is only possible due to the adoption of a sedentary life style and of practices that altered the native forest and afford a reasonably productive agriculture, was found in prehistoric sites located on land inhabited today by the Kuikuro people, inside the Xingu indigenous reserve, and materialised on the pages of the September 19 issue of the American magazine Science, one of the publications with most weight amongst scientists.

In a four-page article, illustrated by six satellite images, a rather unusual team of authors � three from the University of Florida, two from the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro and two Kuikuro Indians � describe the structure of the kind of society that existed in this area of the Amazon rain forest between 1200 and 1600 AD: a group of 19 villages in a circular format, the larger ones protected by ditches of up to 5 meters in depth and palisades, interconnected by a broad and extensive network of compacted earth roads. The researchers estimate that between 2,500 and 5,000 persons used to live in the larger villages. The refinement and precision with which the roads were conceived and executed are impressive. They were extremely rectilinear, between 10 and 50 meters in width and 3 to 5 kilometers in length.The roads are a work of engineering that moved an enormous quantity of earth on the horizontal plane, explains archeologist Michael Heckenberger, from the University of Florida, the main author of the text inScience, a 41-year-old American who speaks Portuguese fluently, having lived seven years in Brazil, one and a half of them inside the Xingu.

[1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

If I have enough time, I shall try to find links to videos talking about such discoveries (but no promises).

Update 1: Fapesp Mag (online edition in Portuguese) has another article about the discovery of a five thousand year old civilisation in Northern Peru. So far, that is the oldest civilisation known to have existed in the American Hemisphere.

Upated 2: Today Brazilian mass media reported that Archaeologist Ni�de Guidon, who works at Fumdham, has been receiving anonymous threats to her life, and that important artefacts and rupestral art sites in the Serra da Capivara National Park have been vandalised recently.
In the year 1991, Unesco included the Serra da Capivara Park in the Wolrd Heritage list.


At 8:37 PM, Blogger Amon said...

Well done on a nice blog Tony Marmo. I was looking for information on ancient rings and came across your post Highlights from FAPESP MAG - not quite what I was looking for related to ancient rings but interesting all the same!


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