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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 February 2020

Summary and Keywords

Before the Portuguese arrived in Brazil at the beginning of the 16th century, the vast area that today constitutes the national territory was occupied by different indigenous groups, the native peoples of the land. The origins of human settlement in Brazil have been the subject of heated debates. Brazilian archaeology has long been dedicated to the issue, in conjunction with researchers from several countries, because the question holds implications for charting early human life across the Americas. Their findings have made it possible to better understand the long history of indigenous societies in what is today Brazil based on their material remains, because it is rarely possible to establish a correlation between one group or another based solely on ethno-historical sources. The archaeological research has also made meaningful progress on cultural history, addressing questions related to the way of life of hunter gathers and ceramist groups. The latter were numerous and diversified in the past, but the importance and wide distribution of the Tupi, the first indigenous group with whom Europeans came into contact, should be highlighted. Another issue of interest is the sociopolitical complexity and the material sophistication of late precolonial Amazon societies.

Keywords: Ancient indigenous societies, Brazilian archaeology, Paleo-Indian, lithic technology, shell mounds, Tupi-Guarani tradition, anthropophagy, complex societies in Amazonia, geoglyphs, megaliths

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