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Diversity 2010, 2(4), 473-504; doi:10.3390/d2040473
Article

The Amazonian Formative: Crop Domestication and Anthropogenic Soils

Received: 29 January 2010; in revised form: 12 March 2010 / Accepted: 24 March 2010 / Published: 29 March 2010
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Abstract: The emergence of sedentism and agriculture in Amazonia continues to sit uncomfortably within accounts of South American pre-Columbian history. This is partially because deep-seated models were formulated when only ceramic evidence was known, partly because newer data continue to defy simple explanations, and partially because many discussions continue to ignore evidence of pre-Columbian anthropogenic landscape transformations. This paper presents the results of recent geoarchaeological research on Amazonian anthropogenic soils. It advances the argument that properties of two different types of soils, terras pretas and terras mulatas, support their interpretation as correlates of, respectively, past settlement areas and fields where spatially-intensive, organic amendment-reliant cultivation took place. This assessment identifies anthropogenic soil formation as a hallmark of the Amazonian Formative and prompts questions about when similar forms of enrichment first appear in the Amazon basin. The paper reviews evidence for embryonic anthrosol formation to highlight its significance for understanding the domestication of a key Amazonian crop: manioc (Manihot esculenta ssp. esculenta). A model for manioc domestication that incorporates anthropogenic soils outlines some scenarios which link the distribution of its two broader varieties—sweet and bitter manioc—with the widespread appearance of Amazonian anthropogenic dark earths during the first millennium AD.
Keywords: Amazonia; Formative; anthropogenic dark earths; terras pretas; terras mulatas; manioc; plant domestication; landscape domestication; geoarchaeology; soil micromorphology; anthropogenic landscape transformations; Historical Ecology Amazonia; Formative; anthropogenic dark earths; terras pretas; terras mulatas; manioc; plant domestication; landscape domestication; geoarchaeology; soil micromorphology; anthropogenic landscape transformations; Historical Ecology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Arroyo-Kalin, M. The Amazonian Formative: Crop Domestication and Anthropogenic Soils. Diversity 2010, 2, 473-504.

AMA Style

Arroyo-Kalin M. The Amazonian Formative: Crop Domestication and Anthropogenic Soils. Diversity. 2010; 2(4):473-504.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Arroyo-Kalin, Manuel. 2010. "The Amazonian Formative: Crop Domestication and Anthropogenic Soils." Diversity 2, no. 4: 473-504.


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