Michael J. Heckenberger 

University of Florida
Department of Anthropology

P.O. Box 117305 
1112 Turlington Hall 
Gainesville, FL 32611-7305 
Phone (352) 392-2253 x.230 
Fax (352) 392-6929 
Office: Turlington B123; Lab B328 
email: mheckenb@anthro.ufl.edu




NPR Story

National Geographic News

Latest Research from the Upper Xingu

Science 29 August 2008:
Vol. 321. no. 5893, pp. 1214 - 1217
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159769

Article Link

Abstract

Reports

Pre-Columbian Urbanism, Anthropogenic Landscapes, and the Future of the Amazon

Michael J. Heckenberger,1* J. Christian Russell,2 Carlos Fausto,3 Joshua R. Toney,4 Morgan J. Schmidt,5 Edithe Pereira,6 Bruna Franchetto,7 Afukaka Kuikuro8

The archaeology of pre-Columbian polities in the Amazon River basin forces a reconsideration of early urbanism and long-term change in tropical forest landscapes. We describe settlement and land-use patterns of complex societies on the eve of European contact (after 1492) in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon. These societies were organized in articulated clusters, representing small independent polities, within a regional peer polity. These patterns constitute a "galactic" form of prehistoric urbanism, sharing features with small-scale urban polities in other areas. Understanding long-term change in coupled human-environment systems relating to these societies has implications for conservation and sustainable development, notably to control ecological degradation and maintain regional biodiversity.

1 Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
2 Land-Use and Environmental Change Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
3 Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Quinta da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro 20940–040, Brazil.
4 Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
5 Department of Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
6 Coordenação de Ciências Humanas, Museu Paranese Emílio Goeldi, Belém 66077–830, Brazil.
7 Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Quinta da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro 20940–040, Brazil.
8 Associação Indígena Kuikuro do Alto Xingu, Parque Indígena do Xingu (PIX), Mato Grosso, Brazil.


* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mheck@ufl.edu