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Fire as material culture: ethnoarchaeology in the Negro River, northwest of Amazonia

Grant number: 13/22372-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2014
Effective date (End): November 30, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Archeology
Principal Investigator:Rui Sérgio Sereni Murrieta
Grantee:Caroline Fernandes Caromano
Host Institution: Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (MAE). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


In the Amazon, fire possesses an important role for thousands of modern communities, present from the interior of houses to agricultural fields, and it is hypothesized that its importance in the pre-colonial past would have been even greater. Research conducted in the region point to the importance of anthropic fire in the history of people and the forest itself, being a common element in traditional agriculture and responsible for changes in ecosystems and soil productivity. In archaeological sites, evidences of fire are frequently identified, pointing to its use in the undertaking of widely various past activities. Despite its importance, fire is not subject to systematic study in Amazonian archaeology. No efforts are made in actively searching for evidences of its use in archaeological contexts, being such evidences documented opportunistically when casually observed during excavations. Furthermore, when dealt with, fire is treated from a strictly technological approach. Few interpretations are made on its possible roles as a mediator of social relations in the Amazonian past, and little attention is given to the social processes behind the production and use of fire and the formation of its archaeological record. The proposed project will use a combination of ethnoarchaeological work and studies on material culture to investigate fire use amongst indigenous Baniwa populations of the Rio Negro region, in Northwestern Amazon. Objectives are to document technical and symbolical aspects on the use of fire, to identify and classify the types of combustion structures and the employment of fire in different areas of activity, and to create models on how diverse types of fire produced by the Baniwa may generate different features and distinct assemblages of botanical macro remains. (AU)

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
CAROMANO, Caroline Fernandes. Adding Fuel to the Fire: An Ethnoarchaeological study of Fire in the Amazon. 2018. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (MAE) São Paulo.

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