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Late Holocene Neotropical agricultural landscapes: phytolith and stable carbon isotope analysis of raised fields from French Guianan coastal savannahs

Abstract : This paper summarizes phytolith analyses from four pre-Columbian agricultural raised-field sites of the coastal savannahs of French Guiana—Savane Grand Macoua, Piliwa, Bois Diable and K-VIII—and carbon isotope analyses from the first-named site. The combined phytolith and 13C isotope analyses evidence the transformation of the landscape from a relatively homogeneous wetland vegetation comprised of a mixture of C4 and C3 plants (the latter including Cyperaceae and other herbaceous monocots such as Marantaceae and Heliconia, Oryzoideae grasses, and other plants typical of frequently flooded areas) to the construction of raised fields that were dominated by C4 plants (maize and other Panicoideae grasses). Our analysis proves the utility of phytoliths for tracing the agricultural history of landscapes, showing that, as in other parts of the Central and South American lowlands, maize (Zea mays) was one important crop cultivated in raised fields. We also estimated the productivity of raised-field agriculture, showing that in combination with other subsistence activities, it certainly had the capacity to sustain sizeable populations. (source éditeur)
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01845799
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Submitted on : Friday, July 20, 2018 - 3:53:29 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:09:01 AM

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José Iriarte, Bruno Glaser, Jennifer Watling, Adam Wainwright, Jago Jonathan Birk, et al.. Late Holocene Neotropical agricultural landscapes: phytolith and stable carbon isotope analysis of raised fields from French Guianan coastal savannahs. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier, 2010, 37 (12), pp.2984-2994. ⟨10.1016/j.jas.2010.06.016⟩. ⟨hal-01845799⟩

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