Case study: Daiana Travassos Alves

Dissertation title

Food consumption in Pre-Columbian Amazonia: paleobotanical research at the Porto de Santarem Site

Principal supervisor

Professor Jose Iriarte

Second supervisor

Dr Marisa Lazzari

About me

I graduated with a BA in History from the Federal University of Para, Brazil, in 2010. Then I started a MA in Anthropology with concentration in Archaeology at the same institution, which I finished in 2012. Currently, I am a PhD student at the University of Exeter, funded by a scholarship from the CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education, Brazil.

I have been involved in Amazonian archaeology since 2007, integrating research team both in Marajo Island and in Santarem area. My current research project aims to investigate plant food consumption at the Porto de Santarem site and the landscape transformation caused by the intensive cultivation of the riverine areas. This site presents a long term sequence of human occupation that includes Santarem period (960 ±30 BP), related with a regional organised, densely populated, and agricultural based society. This period is also associated which the Amazonian Dark Earth formation at the site. I will apply a combined approach of Archaeology and Paleobotany methodologies that I believe can provide different data about the subject, and permits a better comprehension of ecological aspects of pre-Columbian land-use and its environmental impacts. I have been participating in excavation seasons at the site since 2007, and at the last ones I had collected artefactual and botanical remains which will be analysed for the research purposes. The analyses include extraction and identification of phytoliths from both artefacts and soil samples, and the identification of macro botanical material.

Research interests

  • Landscape archaeology
  • Amazonian Dark Earth formation
  • Archaeobotanical remains
  • Historical Ecology
  • Land-use legacy
  • Human-environment interactions
  • Material culture
  • Emergence of complex societies

Articles published in peer-reviewed journals

2011 ”Os bancos de cerâmica marajoara: seus contextos e possíveis significados simbólicos”. Amazônica: Revista de Antropologia (Online) 3: 108–141. With Denise Pahl Schaan.

Published book chapters

2012 “Arqueologia, história e a construção do passado Tapajó”. In Arqueologia, patrimônio e multiculturalismo na beira da estrada: pesquisando ao longo das rodovias Transamazônica e Santarém-Cuiabá, Denise P. Schaan. (Org.). Belém: GKNoronha, pp. 11–16.

Other Publications

2009 “Assentos para chefes e Pajés? Um estudo dos bancos cerâmicos do Marajó”. In Anais do XV Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. Belém.


I integrated a group of students who led an extension course in archaeology at Federal University of Para, Brazil, in 2011, teaching Material Culture classes.  

Editorial positions

Since 2012 I have been Assistant Editor at Amazônica: Revista de Antropologia (online), an international journal committed to encouraging the debate, construction of knowledge, and sharing of results of scientific research related to Amazonian native populations in the four fields of anthropology.