October 2022: Dr. Neil Duncan



Fire and Water: Pre-Columbian landscape management in the Southwestern Amazon

Dr. Neil Duncan, Associate Professor, University of Central Florida

Recent investigations reveal that peoples of the Llanos de Mojos of Bolivia utilized hydrological engineering in the seasonally flooded savanna to modify the landscape for farming, fishing, and hunting. For thousands of years, people significantly transformed the landscape through raised fields, fish weirs, and inhabited forest islands that spread across some 100,000 km2 rivalling in scale and scope to contemporary Andean civilizations such as Chavín, Moche, Tiwanaku, and Inka. This presentation will explore the paleoethnobotanical (pollen, phytoliths, and diatoms) results of sediment coring in wetlands adjacent to these earthworks that document their early construction. In addition, we will explore recent findings about foodways from ceramics residues of foods from inhabited forest islands.

Dr. Neil Duncan is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida and directs the Paleoethnobotanical and Environmental Archaeology Laboratory. Dr. Duncan studies the interrelationships of food, culture, and environment in the past. His current work focuses on the Llanos de Mojos of Bolivia and Cape Canaveral, Florida, but has worked in Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia, and China.

This monthly CGCAS Archaeology Lecture series is sponsored by the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWIARE).