Plant management and human development are entangled in Amazonia, where landscape transformations such as cultural forests and anthrosols are associated with archaeological sites. The highly fertile Amazonian Dark Earths (ADEs) are anthropogenic soils that figure as a major human footprint in Amazonian landscapes. Numerous ancient Tapajó settlements dated to the Late Pre-Columbian period (AD 1000-1600) within the Santarem region present ADEs. This paper presents the main results from an archaeobotanical study in three sites recovering a diversity of food and non-food plants through phytolith analysis in samples from domestic contexts and test pits profiles. Domesticates included maize (Zea mays), manioc (Manihot esculenta), and squash (Cucurbita sp.), whereas palms (peach palm/tucumã, açaí palm), tubers (Marantaceae) and fruit trees (Annonaceae, Burseraceae and Celtis sp.) were the main native plants recovered in samples from the three sites. These phytoliths and anthropogenic soils are addressed as legacies from past human plant consumption and assess ancient soil and vegetal management strategies.
Dr. Daiana T. Alves is currently a full-time Professor at the Federal University of Pará, Brazil. She has a BA in History (2009) and an MA in Anthropology/Archaeology (2012) from the Federal University of Pará and a PhD in Archeology (2017) from the University of Exeter (United Kingdom). She is chief editor of the Amazônica-Anthropology Journal and a member of the Society for Brazilian Archeology (SAB), Society for American Archeology (SAA) and International Phytolith Society (IPS). She leads the Research Group on Amazonian Archaeology – Tapera, investigating plants’ production and consumption in the Pre-Columbian Amazon. Her research focuses on Pre-Columbian land-uses, food production strategies and social changes in Amazonia by integrating archaeology, ethnohistory, geochemistry, and Palaeoethnobotany approaches. A particular interest is the formation of Amazonian Dark Earth anthrosols associated with late Holocene archaeological sites.