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Micromorphology of the first human settlements in South America

Grant number: 15/19405-6
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: July 01, 2016 - December 31, 2018
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Archeology
Principal Investigator:Ximena Suarez Villagran
Grantee:Ximena Suarez Villagran
Home Institution: Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (MAE). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers: Dr. Bertrand Ligouis ; Gelvam André Hartmann


Research on the earliest archaeological sites in South America is fundamental for discussing the peopling of the continent. South America contains the oldest coastal and inland occupations and its archaeological record shows a cultural contrast from early North American sites. However, studies on the earliest sites in South America are few and have rarely involved careful site formation processes analysis from a geoarchaeological perspective. This leaded to endless discussions regarding the reliability of Pleistocene ages and the claimed anthropic origin of stone artifacts and combustion features (i.e. human-made hearths). Site formation processes analyses are essential to understand the natural and cultural processes involved in the formation of any archaeological site (despite its age, size and location). Soil micromorphology has a high resolution potential for studies on site formation and is currently considered an essential aid to understand the history and integrity of the sediments that contain the archaeological findings (artifacts, charcoal, skeletons, etc.). However, it is still rarely applied in South American archaeology. This projects aims at filling the gap of knowledge regarding site formation processes in the earliest sites in South America with special focus on introducing micromorphological analysis as a reliable method to solve key questions related to: the Pleistocene peopling of the contnent; the reliability of radiocarbon and OSL datings (optically stimulated luminescence); identification of ancient combustion features; and taphonomic processes affecting the sites. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
VILLAGRAN, XIMENA S.; STRAUSS, ANDRE; ALVES, MARCONY; OLIVEIRA, RODRIGO ELIAS. Virtual micromorphology: The application of micro-CT scanning for the identification of termite mounds in archaeological sediments. JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE-REPORTS, v. 24, p. 785-795, APR 2019. Web of Science Citations: 1.
VILLAGRAN, XIMENA S. The Shell Midden Conundrum: Comparative Micromorphology of Shell-Matrix Sites from South America. JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL METHOD AND THEORY, v. 26, n. 1, p. 344-395, MAR 2019. Web of Science Citations: 2.

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