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Out of Amazonia: late-Holocene climate change and the Tupi–Guarani trans-continental expansion

Iriarte, J., Smith, R. J., de Souza, J. G., Mayle, F. E. ORCID:, Whitney, B. S., Cardenas, M. L., Singarayer, J., Carson, J. F., Roy, S. ORCID: and Valdes, P. (2017) Out of Amazonia: late-Holocene climate change and the Tupi–Guarani trans-continental expansion. The Holocene, 27 (7). pp. 967-975. ISSN 0959-6836

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0959683616678461


The late Holocene expansion of the Tupi-Guarani languages from southern Amazonia to SE South America constitutes one of the largest expansions of any linguistic family in the world, spanning ~ 4000 km between latitudes 0°S and 35°S at about 2500 yr B.P. However, the underlying reasons for this expansion are a matter of debate. Here, we compare continental-scale palaeoecological, palaeoclimate, and archaeological datasets, to examine the role of climate change in facilitating the expansion of this forestfarming culture. Because this expansion lies within the path of the South American Low-Level Jet, the key mechanism for moisture transport across lowland South America, we were able to explore the relationship between climate change, forest expansion, and the Tupi-Guarani. Our data synthesis shows broad synchrony between late Holocene increasing precipitation and southerly expansion of both tropical forest and Guarani archaeological sites – the southernmost branch of the Tupi-Guarani. We conclude that climate change likely facilitated the agricultural expansion of the Guarani forest-farming culture by increasing the area of forested landscape that they could exploit, showing a prime example of ecological opportunism.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:68186
Publisher:Sage Publications


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