About the Cultivated Wilderness Project

The Project Cultivated Wilderness: Socio-economic development and environmental change in pre-Columbian Amazonia was launched in 2011.

This project aims at exploring the interaction between human society and environment in pre-Columbian Amazonia and investgate how the prehistoric communities developed their relation to their natural surroundings.

Within the frame of the project, Swedish and Brazilian archaeologists are working together with soil scientists in the Santarém area in Brazilian Amazonia. Among other things, these investigations will analyze how the pre-Columbian settlement patterns and patterns of land use in the study area developed through time. In addition to analyzing the rich archaeological material found at sites in the area, the project will investigate other traces of human influence on the landscape. Such traces include Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE), also known as "Terra Preta do Indio", consisting of areas of fertile soil, and contrasting sharply with otherwise poor soils in the Amazon region. Most scientists now agree that these soils are the product of prehistoric human activity. Also strategies aiming at - for example - regulation of water supply or improvement of possibilities of land transportation are likely to have left traces in the landscape.

Regarding the archaeological material the project benefits from the existence of a large comparative material from Santarém and surrounding regions at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg (formerly the Ethnographic Museum in Gothenburg). Hence, new fieldwork will be combined with studies of material in the museum collections.

The project is funded by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and involves researcher from the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Gothenburg, the Department of Soil and Environment at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Uppsala, the Federal University of Pará and the Federal University of Western Pará.




In the event of Questions/Suggestions/Critique

Please let us know:info@cultivated-wilderness.org