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Cultural changes in Central Brazil: high-resolution geoarchaeology at Gruta do Gentio II and Lapa do Boquete, MG

Grant number: 23/18132-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2024
Effective date (End): April 30, 2026
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Archeology - Theory and Methods in Archaeology
Principal Investigator:Ximena Suarez Villagran
Grantee:Arlys Nicolás Batalla Crossa
Host Institution: Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (MAE). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:17/16451-2 - Virtual anthropology and archaeogenomics of pre-colonial Brazil, AP.JP


The landscapes of vast Central Brazil present a clear signal of human occupation and transformation since at least 13k years BP. Two large sets of occupations, one linked to hunter-gatherer or forager populations (since the Pleistocene-Holocene transition), and another of horticultural ceramist groups (since the Middle-Late Holocene transition), have been identified. The sedimentary deposits from rockshelter sites in Central Brazil, favored by exceptional preservation conditions, offer an ideal scenario to understand the transitions between these large groups of occupations and their corresponding ways of life. However, geoarchaeological research oriented to evidence specific forms of alteration, modification, and construction of the sedimentary record by human occupations, as well as possible ruptures, continuities and changes, are still rare. The present project seeks to compare the impacts that indigenous populations, since the Pleistocene-Holocene transition to ceramic diversification, had on the formation of the sedimentary record of Central Brazil, specifically in the exceptionally preserved rockshelter sites of Gruta do Gentio II and Lapa do Boquete, in northeastern and northern Minas Gerais state, respectively. The proposal, to be executed in LabMicro (MAE/USP), will employ high-resolution geoarchaeology, based on the study of stratigraphic contexts through micromorphology and elemental (XRF, micro-XRF) and molecular (FTIR-ATR, micro-FTIR) techniques, to characterize deposits derived from different human activities (e.g. pyrotechnology, use of plant materials), natural processes, and their mutual relations and post-depositional transformations.

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