Archeological Investigations at the Mouth of the Amazon

Archeological Investigations at the Mouth of the Amazon

Archeological Investigations at the Mouth of the Amazon

Archeological Investigations at the Mouth of the Amazon

Excerpt

Background of the Lower Amazon Archaeological Expedition

Prior to the introduction of extensive survey and stratigraphic excavation by trained archeologists, the interpretation of the archeology of an area must be based on the more elaborate and decorative pieces of pottery that have found their way into museums and on vague comments recorded by travelers in pursuit of adventure or by scientists after other kinds of information. This situation applied to the mouth of the Amazon prior to 1948. In the 19th century, Marajó Island in particular exerted a great fascination on numerous scientists as well as laymen. The Marajoara mounds were first recorded in the 18th century by an anonymous visitor who was impressed by the well-made vessels they contained. When the Amazon was undergoing exploration during the latter part of the 19th century by geologists, botanists, general naturalists, and laymen, these sites were frequently visited and examined. Among those who wrote detailed accounts of their activities and impressions are José Vieira Couto de Magalhães, Domingo Soares Ferreira Penna, Joseph B. Steere, Orville A. Derby, Charles F. Hartt, and Ladislau Netto. In 1895 and 1896 Emilio Goeldi and Aureliano Lima Guedes conducted survey and excavation in the Territory of Amapã and reported the now well-known sites at Cunaní and Maracá. Most of these men made collections of the more elaborate types of pottery and these were sent to museums in North America and Brazil.

In the early decades of the 20th century, the mounds of Marajó continued to be visited and excavated. Those who conducted the most extensive explorations represented two new categories of professional allegiance: Journalists, like Algot Lange who dug in Pacoval in 1913 and Desmond Holdridge who examined several mounds east of Lago Ararí in 1930; and anthropologists, including W. C. Farabee who made extensive excavations in 1914 at Fortaleza and in 1916 at . . .

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