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Holocene hydrogeomorphology and pre-Colombian water management in the Llanos de Moxos, Bolivian Amazon

English title Holocene hydrogeomorphology and pre-Colombian water management in the Llanos de Moxos, Bolivian Amazon
Applicant Veit Heinz
Number 122289
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Geomorphology
Start/End 01.04.2009 - 31.03.2012
Approved amount 502'572.00
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Keywords (15)

water resources; geoarcheology; fluvial sediments; geomorphology; soils; paleohydrology; Hydrogeomorphology; geoarchaeology; human-environmental interaction; pre-Columbian cultures; Holocene; Bolivia; Moxos; Beni; Amazon

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
LeadIn the Llanos de Moxos, Bolivian Amazon, the complex interplay between the natural environmental variability during the Holocene and the pre-Columbian cultural evolution is studied. Thereby, this project contributes to two questions of general concern: How can global change affect the continental fresh water resources? And how will humans adapt to these changing conditions?BackgroundThe Moxos plains (Llanos de Moxos) in NE Bolivia are among the largest inundated savannah landscapes in the world, characterized by a dense and complex fluvial drainage pattern, belonging to the Amazon system. Neither the modern fluvial morphodynamics nor the Holocene variability of the hydrogeomorphological conditions of the Llanos de Moxos is well understood. Recently, manifold evidence for wide-spread pre-Columbian human impact on the natural landscape in this area has challenged the myth of an "untouched" Amazonia and replaced it by a picture of densely populated settlements and chiefdoms instead. Nevertheless, almost no field data exist for the interpretation of these human-environmental interactions. AimOur project will cover a central part of the Llanos de Moxos and contribute to the following objectives: i) Documenting and clarifying the extent, type, age and meaning of anthropogenic earthwork to better understand the interactions between pre-Columbian cultures and the natural environment, ii) Reconstructing the Holocene variability (natural background conditions) of the hydrological/fluvial system. In order to achieve these aims, intense field work will be combined with a number of sedimentological and pedological laboratory methods as well as the analysis of remote sensing imagery.SignificanceWithin the ongoing discussion of "global change" the adaptation of human societies to changing environmental and hydrological conditions constitutes a central issue. Particularly the use and management of water resources are crucial for the future development of the planet. Against this background, relevant lessons can be learned from geoarchaeological and paleoenvironmental studies in the Llanos de Moxos.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Eco-archaeological regions in the Bolivian Amazon: Linking pre-Columbian earthworks and environmental diversity
Lombardo U. Canal-Beeby E. and Veit H (2011), Eco-archaeological regions in the Bolivian Amazon: Linking pre-Columbian earthworks and environmental diversity, in Geographica Helvetica, 3, 173-182.
Raised fields in the Bolivian Amazonia: a prehistoric green revolution or a flood risk mitigation strategy?
Lombardo U. Canal-Beeby E. Fehr S. and Veit H. (2011), Raised fields in the Bolivian Amazonia: a prehistoric green revolution or a flood risk mitigation strategy?, in Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(3), 502-512.
Review of past and recent fluvial dynamics in the Beni lowlands, NE Bolivia
Plotzki A. May J.H. and Veit H. (2011), Review of past and recent fluvial dynamics in the Beni lowlands, NE Bolivia, in Geographica Helvetica, 3, 164-172.
Pre-Columbian human occupation patterns in the eastern plains of the Llanos de Moxos, Bolivian Amazonia
Lombardo Umberto and Prümers Heiko (2010), Pre-Columbian human occupation patterns in the eastern plains of the Llanos de Moxos, Bolivian Amazonia, in Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(8), 1875-1885.
Raised Fields of Northwestern Bolivia: a GIS based analysis
Lombardo Umberto (2010), Raised Fields of Northwestern Bolivia: a GIS based analysis, in Zeitschrift für Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen, 3, 127-149.
Mid- to late-Holocene fluvial activity behind pre-Columbian social complexity in the southwestern Amazon basin
Lombardo U. May J.-H. and Veit H., Mid- to late-Holocene fluvial activity behind pre-Columbian social complexity in the southwestern Amazon basin, in The Holocene.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Geographisch-ethnologische Gesellschaft Basel 16.02.2012 Basel
Geographische Gesellschaft Zürich 30.11.2011 Zürich
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 12.11.2011 Zürich
Kolloquium Universität Bayreuth 08.11.2011 Bayreuth
Geographische Gesellschaft St. Gallen 24.10.2011 St. Gallen
CH-Quat annual meeting on Geo& Archaeology 29.05.2011 Bern
INQUA 29.05.2011 Bern
AGU 29.05.2011 San Francisco
76th SAA Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology 30.03.2011 Sacramento
8th Swiss Geo-Science Meeting 19.11.2010 Fribourg
Swiss Global Change Day 29.05.2010 Bern
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 29.05.2010 Fribourg
AGU 29.05.2010 San Francisco
Swiss Global Change Day 29.05.2010 Bern
AK Geoarchäologie 14.05.2010 Frankfurt
AK Paläopedologie 14.05.2010 Frankfurt/Main
Jahrestagung AK Geoarchäologie 13.05.2010 Frankfurt/Main
Gesellschaft für Erdkunde, Darmstadt 25.01.2010 Darmstadt
Jahrestagung AK Lateinamerika 14.11.2009 Göttingen


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Bevor Kolumbus kam: Prähistorische Landnutzung und Umweltentwicklung im bolivianischen Amazonasgebi German-speaking Switzerland 20.05.2011
Media relations: print media, online media Baukunst im Dschungel NZZ am Sonntag German-speaking Switzerland 01.08.2010
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Clevere Ureinwohner zähmten den Dschungel Uniaktuell German-speaking Switzerland 29.05.2010
Media relations: print media, online media Sur la piste des cités perdues dans l'Amazonie Le Temps Western Switzerland 31.07.2010

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
141277 Human presence, anthropogenic landscape modifications and environmental change during the Holocene in the Llanos de Moxos (LM) - Bolivian Amazon 01.04.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
133817 Environmental Analysis and Dating with Radiocarbon using MICADAS 01.12.2010 R'EQUIP

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