Amazonian archaeology has made major advances in recent decades, particularly in understanding coupled human environmental systems. Like other tropical forest regions, prehistoric social formations were long portrayed as small-scale, dispersed communities that differed little in organization from recent indigenous societies and had negligible impacts on the essentially pristine forest. Archaeology documents substantial variation that, while showing similarities to other world regions, presents novel pathways of early foraging and domestication, semi-intensive resource management, and domesticated landscapes associated with diverse small- and medium-sized complex societies. Late prehistoric regional polities were articulated in broad regional political economies, which collapsed in the aftermath of European contact. Field methods have also changed dramatically through in-depth local and regional studies, interdisciplinary approaches, and multicultural collaborations, notably with indigenous peoples. Contemporary research highlights questions of scale, perspective, and agency, including concerns for representation, public archaeology, indigenous cultural heritage, and conservation of the region's remarkable cultural and ecological resources.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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