The last number of Geographica Helvetica is a special issue about Amazonia entitled “Environmental changes and pre-Columbian human influence in the Amazon region”. Among the authors there are two prominent pollen specialists, Behling, H. and Mayle, F.E.; the phytogeographer Langstroth, R.; and several members (and ex members) of the paleo-geoecological group at Bern University, including myself. Abstracts can be accessed here.
Our paper, co-authored by Canal-Beeby, E. and Veit, H., is entitled “Eco-archaeological regions in the Bolivian Amazon. An overview of pre-Columbian earthworks linking them to their environmental settings”.
The discovery of extensive pre-Columbian earthworks in north-eastern Bolivia has been seen as evidence that Amazonia was once densely populated by complex societies. This has led some scholars to believe that culture evolved in Amazonia regardless of environmental constraints. However, this view does not take the diversity of earthworks and geo-ecological regions into account, nor their uneven distribution. This paper offers an initial explanation of the possible links that exist between the different types of earthworks in north-eastern Bolivia and their environmental settings and identifies six distinct eco-archaeological regions. Results show a spatial overlap between those areas with greater evidence of past complex societies and areas where environmental constraints were fewer. This suggests that local hydrology and soils influenced the development of pre-Columbian societies in the region.