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Volume 59 / Social Sciences

ANTHROPOLOGY: ARCHAEOLOGY


South America

BETTY J. MEGGERS, Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution


THE NUMBER OF PUBLICATIONS on South American archeology continues to grow largely due to the increasing productivity of local archeologists. This development has required annotating symposia volumes and congress proceedings as single entries and omitting numerous brief, specific, technical, and general articles. Even so, the proportion of publications by nationals constitutes more than 90 percent of the total in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and Venezuela. And for the first time, these publications outnumber those by foreigners in Peru. Foreign authors now exceed nationals only in Bolivia, Ecuador, and the Guianas.

South American archeologists have been assuming an increasing role in the controversy over the peopling of the continent. Additional evidence for a pre-11,000 BP arrival has been provided in Argentina (items #bi2002003141# and #bi2002003147#), Brazil (items #bi2002003176#, #bi2002003199#, and #bi2002003227#), and Peru (items #bi2002003278# and #bi 00001534#). A millennia-long association between artifacts and Pleistocene fauna favors environmental change rather than human agency as the cause of animal extinction (item #bi2002000318#). In addition, better knowledge of climatic change and its impact on subsistence suggests that North American models are not applicable to South American conditions (items #bi 99007184# and #bi 00005862#). Finally, the role of environmental change in channeling cultural development is receiving increasing attention (items #bi2002003161#, and #bi2002003212#).

Country-specific works emphasize various issues within the discipline. Sea-level rise is among the factors being assessed to reconstruct subsistence, settlement, and social behavior among sambaqui-dwellers on the south coast of Brazil (item #bi2002003170#). Specialized studies include catchment analysis (item #bi2002003201#), diet (item #bi 98008106#), site formation (item #bi 00002809#), and capture of fish (item #bi2002003171#). In Guyana, depletion of coastal resources seems to be correlated with manioc domestication (item #bi 99009149#). In Ecuador, discontinuities in highland and coastal sequences are being correlated with volcanic eruptions (items #bi 00001159# and #bi 00006366#). In Peru, more attention is being placed on the potential impact of El Niño episodes on subsistence (item #bi2002003291#) and behavior (item #bi 99007294#).

The description and interpretation of rock art continues to be a focus of attention throughout the continent (items #bi 00001148#, #bi2002003227#, #bi2002003173#, and #bi 99009200#). Analysis of human skeletal remains increasingly includes reconstruction of diet, disease, warfare, and behavior (items #bi2002000242#, #bi2002000274#, #bi2002003282#, #bi2002000216#). Several important articles discuss the reliability of C14 and TL dates (items #bi2002003216#, #bi 00001161#, and #bi2002003236#).

Monographs notable for combining detailed description with innovative interpretation include González on the Aguada culture of northwestern Argentina (item #bi2002003163#), Donnan on Moche fineline painting (item #bi2002003265#), and Aldenderfer on south-central Andean high-altitude adaptation (item #bi 00000965#). Dillehay (item #bi2002000315#) and Lavallée (item #bi2001000177#) provide contrasting overviews of the arrival and dispersal of the initial colonizers of the continent, and Wilson discusses subsequent cultural diversification in an ecological perspective (item #bi2002000328#). Two noteworthy multi-authored volumes of theoretical interest are Historia de América Andina, which emphasizes the social archeology perspective (item #bi2002000319#) and Formativo sudamericano: una revaluación, which evaluates the applicability of the term "formative" outside the central Andes (item #bi2002000317#).


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