Monday, September 24, 2012

From the library

The Upper Amazon by Donald Lathrap is now more than 40 years old, but is still an interesting read, and presents a vision of the archaeology of South America and the Amazon Basin which is still unfamiliar to many outside of American archaeology. The book is often compared with Amazonia, by Betty Meggers. Lathrap argued forcefully for the importance of the Amazon as a setting for cultural innovation, while Meggers argued that the achievement of pre-Columbian Amazonians was in how they adapted to the rigors of this “counterfeit paradise.” The conflict between these two ideas would shape Amazonian archaeology for decades, and comparing the two contemporaneous books (they were published in 1970 and 1971) is a great way to access that argument.

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