Mapping Pre-Columbian Land Use in Amazonia

08.06 - 10.06.2016  
Barcelona, Spain

The "Mapping Pre-Columbian Land Use in Amazonia" meeting will be held 8-10 June 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.


Carrer de l'Hospital, 64
08001 Barcelona, Spain


To bring together archaeologists, geographers and paleoecologists working in the Amazon basin in order to produce the first land use maps of pre-Columbian Amazonia. The reconstruction of pre-Columbian land use patterns in Amazonia is a prerequisite in order to assess the possible influence that pre-contact deforestation and post-contact re-forestation had on global climate. To what extent pre-Columbians modified Amazonia’s "pristine" ecosystems is one of the most controversial topics in South American paleoecology and archaeology.

While some authors argue that pre-Columbians occupied only small areas of Amazonia and that their impact was minimal and localized, others suggest that the pre-Columbians modified the landscape on a wide scale, with long-lasting legacies in terms of forest biodiversity and the creation of anthropogenic soils. This debate is polarized also in terms of the discipline involved, with mostly paleoecologists supporting the "localized disturbance" scenario and mostly archaeologists and anthropologists supporting the "widespread disturbance" scenario.

Assessing to what extent pre-Columbians deforested Amazonia is key in order to understand how anthropogenic land-cover change influenced climate in the past. This project aims to bring together an international group of Amazonists, Senior and Young Researchers from different disciplines, including archaeologists, historians, geographers and paleoecologists, in order to develop a common methodology to assess and map how the land was used in Amazonia 6K, 4K, 2K years BP and 1000, 1500 and 1850 AD.


1. The creation of an open access, web-based repository of the data and metadata associated to the currently documented Amazonian archaeological sites.
2. The production of pre-Columbian land-use maps of Amazonia for the periods 6K, 4K, 2K years BP and 1000, 1500 and 1850 AD.
3. The consolidation of an international and multidisciplinary community of researchers committed to the continuous update of the database of Amazonian archaeological sites, the improvement of the pre-Columbian land-use maps and the scaling up of the mapping project to the whole of Latin America.


Wednesday 8 June - Open to the public
9:30 Umberto Lombardo: Welcome and introduction
9:50 Mitchell James Power: Fire in Amazonia
10:35 Amy Goldberg: Post-invasion human demography in prehistoric South America: a continental view
11:20 Coffee break
11:40 Eduardo Neves: En búsqueda del año 6K en la Amazonia Antigua: Evidencias Tempranas de Cambios Paisajísticos
12:25 Marie-Pierre Ledru: Paleoecological changes in the Amazon basin during the Holocene
13:10 Lunch

15:00 Charles R. Clement: Plant domestication and dispersal in Amazonia
15:45 Stéphen Rostain: Amazonía, el dinamismo de un paisaje tropical único
16:30 Coffee break
16:50 Umberto Lombardo: 10.000 años de land use en la Amazonia Boliviana
17:35 Manuel Arroyo-Kalin: Los Suelos Antrópicos de la Amazonía: algo más que tierra negra…

Thursday 9 and Friday 10 June - Closed-door workshop


Umberto Lombardo (UPF)
Débora Zurro (IMF-CSIC)
Jorge Caro Saiz (IMF-CSIC)
Javier Ruiz-Pérez (UPF)
Marco Madella (UPF/IMF-CSIC)

Further information

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