Map of the tropical ecology field work sites (yellow circles) in the Andes and Amazon regions of South America. Pink circles show those areas in the Amazon basin where evidence of pre-Columbian complex societies has been reported: 1) Llanos de Moxos; 2) Upper Xingu River; 3) Marajó island – modified from Pitman et al.
The map shows a desolating reality: almost no field work has been done in the areas where evidence of pre-Columbian cultural complexity has been found! Can you believe that “historical ecologists” and “environmental determinists” have been quarreling for 30 years about the role the environment plays in allowing the formation of complex societies and we still hardly know anything about the environment? Don’t you think it is time archaeologists and anthropologist take geographers and ecologists to the field with them? Till now, the “multidisciplinary” approach has meant the archaeologist gave a sample to a soil scientist to analyze because he/she wanted an answer to a specific question, then the “answer provider” became a co-author. I think we need something different. From my point of view all archaeological excavations should be carried out with a soil scientist and an ecologist. Scientific research needs to be multidisciplinary in all its phases, especially during the fieldwork.