Mapping Agûkabuk in Munduruku Traditional Territories, southern Brazilian Amazonia 

BY POSTED IN All Projects, Amazon

As part of my independent study project, funded by the Federal University of Western Pará State (UFOPA) and the Society for American Archaeology’s Native American Scholarships Programme, I travelled back to the Tropas River, my home territory, in 2016.

The purpose of this trip was to conduct an initial survey of what was still an archaeologically unknown area.    

The Rio das Tropas is a tributary of the Upper Tapajós River and forms the boundary between officially recognised Munduruku Land and a federal conservation unit called the Crepori National Forest. In spite of this official border, the Munduruku people consider the Crepori National Forest to be part of their traditionally occupied territory. Although there are only two villages in the Crepori Forest today, the area is still used for gathering and hunting activities, as well as for planting agricultural fields. It also contains many abandoned Munduruku villages.   

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I was able to locate eleven archaeological sites in twelve days. I also interviewed Munduruku elders who gave me information about Munduruku history, myths, territory and knowledge of material culture that is no longer made. They introduced me to specific sacred places in the area and showed me the destruction caused by illegal gold mining activities. I was also able to record information that could be of ethnoarchaeological interest. I documented aspects of Munduruku life today, which relies on both industrial and forest materials.  

The next stage of the project, funded by the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence, involves returning to the Upper Tapajós River in the coming months to discuss a number of archaeological issues. I will present the results of my initial survey to the communities I visited in 2016, and will continue my research interviewing knowledgeable elders and surveying other agũkabuk in Munduruku territory. This survey component involves recording the location of sites using a GPS as well as photographing the area. I will interview and photograph people, landscapes, plants and artefacts of interest, including the garden plots and paths that lead to the river and forest. I also intend to describe and draw sketches of the contemporary villages that lie within archaeological sites.