Aerial photograph of Bois Diable agricultural raised-fields (courtesy of Stephen Rostain)

Coupled human and natural systems: late pre-Hispanic agricultural landscapes of French Guiana 

Dr José Iriarte

This interdisciplinary international project brings together a team of archaeologists, paleoethnobotanists, soil scientists, and biologists to investigate the development of late pre-Hispanic raised field agriculture in the seasonally flooded coastal savannas of French Guiana. In this warm and humid environment, characterized by poor preservation of macrobotanical remains such as charred seeds and roots, the application of state of the art phytolith, starch grain, and pollen analyses are crucial to reconstruct the agricultural history of the region.

This is a five-year project funded by CNRS (Programme Amazonie-Phases I and II) and is carried out with co-applicants Doyle McKey (Université Montpellier II, France), Stéphen Rostain (Archéologie des Amériques, UMR 8096 CNRS, France) and Bruno Glaser (Institute of Soil Science and Soil Geography, University of Bayreuth, Germany).

To find out more read:

McKey, Doyle; Rostain, Stephen; Iriarte, José; Glaser, Bruno; Birks, Jago and Renard, Delphine. In press. Coupled human and natural systems: Pre-Columbian agricultural landscapes, ecosystem engineers and self-organized patchiness in Amazonia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).