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Middle Holocene plant cultivation on the Atlantic Forest coast of Brazil?

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  • Luis Pezo-Lanfranco
  • Sabine Eggers
  • Cecilia Petronilho
  • Alice Micaela Toso
  • Dione da Rocha Bandeira
  • Matthew Von Tersch
  • Adriana M. P. dos Santos
  • Beatriz Ramos da Costa
  • Roberta Meyer
  • Andre Carlo Colonese


Publication details

JournalRoyal Society Open Science
DateAccepted/In press - 2 Aug 2018
DatePublished (current) - 29 Aug 2018
Issue number 180432
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


This work provides robust oral pathology and stable isotope evidence on Bayesian mixing model for an unexpectedly high consumption of carbohydrates by a Middle Holocene coastal population of the Atlantic Forest of South America, an area traditionally viewed as peripheral to early centres of food production on the continent. A diversified economy with substantial consumption of plant resources was in place at the shellmound (or sambaqui) of Morro do Ouro, in Babitonga Bay, and supported a dense population at ca 4500 cal BP. This dietary composition is unique when compared with that of other contemporary and later groups in the region, including peoples who used ceramics and domesticated crops. The results corroborate independent dietary evidence, such as stone tool artefacts for plant processing and plant microremains in dental calculus of the same individuals, and suggest plant cultivation possibly took place in this region at the same time as the development of early agriculture in Amazonia and the La Plata Basin. Our study situates the Atlantic Forest coast of Brazil on the map of early plant management in the Neotropics.

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©2018 The Authors.

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