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The Continuing Quest for El Dorado: Round Two

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Betty J. Meggers
Affiliation:
MRC-112, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 20560

Abstract

An increasing number of publications supports the autonomous development of dense sedentary populations with advanced social organization throughout Amazonia in spite of abundant archaeological, ethnographic, physical, and biological evidence for environmental limitations to sustainable intensive exploitation of the varzea as well as the terra firme. Three articles in recent issues of Latin American Antiquity dispute the validity of the data collected during three decades of survey by participants of the Programa Nacional de Pesquisas Arqueológicas na Bacia Amazônica, which indicate that surviving indigenous groups perpetuate settlement and social behavior adopted at least 2,000 years ago, when the widespread use of pottery makes it detectable. Correction of the misunderstandings contributing to this "revisionist" assessment is essential because uncritical acceptance of the conclusions not only conflicts with ecological and archaeological evidence, but provides support for the unconstrained deforestation of the region.

Un creciente número de publicaciones apoya el desarrollo autónomo de poblaciones densas y sedentarias con organización social avanzada a lo largo de la Amazonía a pesar de la abundante evidencia arqueológica, etnográfica, física y biológica de la existencia de limitaciones medioambientales para la explotación intensiva sostenible de la varzea como de la terra firme. Tres artículos en números recientes de Latin American Antiquity rechazan la credibilidad de la evidencia recolectada durante tres décadas de prospecciones realizadas por los participantes del Programa Nacional de Pesquisas Arqueológicas na Bacia Amazónica, que sostiene que los grupos indígenas sobrevivientes conservan un comportamiento habitacional y social desarrollado por lo menos hace 2000 años, cuando el uso de la cerámica lo torna visible. Una clarificación de los malentendidos que contribuyen a esta evaluación <<revisionista>> es esencial, porque una aceptación de las conclusiones no solamente contradice la evidencia ecológica y arqueológica, si no que respalda la deforestación desenfrenada de la región.

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