The paleoethnobotanical analysis of archaeological remains from two sites in central Brazil provides chronological data for the introduction of domesticated plants to the region. The sites of Lapa dos Bichos and Lapa Pintada, located in the northern portion of the state of Minas Gerais, are within rock shelters in limestone rock outcroppings. The dry conditions at the sites preserved both burnt and unburnt organic materials, including the seeds and fruits that were analyzed in this study. The chronological documentation for the introduction of domesticated plants is based on relative chronology from excavation stratigraphy and radiocarbon dating. The domesticated plants found include maize (Zea mays), manioc (cf. Manihot esculenta), cotton (cf. Gossypium barbadense), peanut (Arachis hypogaea), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), and squash (Cucurbita spp.). Central Brazil is not documented as the region of origin for these species and as such is a periphery where they were introduced. Maize and manioc are found in the strata dated between 750 and 2000 BP at Lapa dos Bichos and c. 1200 BP at Lapa Pintada; bottle gourd occurs in earlier strata (2000 to 4250 BP at Lapa dos Bichos). In addition to domesticated plants, numerous native plant foods were identified in the archaeological assemblage, such as palm nuts (Syagrus oleracea), passion fruit (Passiflora spp.), jatobá (Hymenaea spp.), umbu (Spondias tuberosa), and pequi (Caryocar brasiliensis). At the site of Lapa dos Bichos human habitation is known to span the entirety of the Holocene. Based on the archaeological macroscopic plant remains, the introduction of domesticated plants to central Brazil was a gradual process.
Shock, Myrtle P.; Kipnis, Renato; Bueno, Lucas; and Silva, Francini M.
"A Chronology of the Introduction of Domesticated Plants in Central Brazil,"
Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America:
2, Article 6, 52-59.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/tipiti/vol11/iss2/6