chapter  3
Traces of Ancient Times
Pages 46

The history of human occupation in the Upper Xingu begins well over a thousand years ago, perhaps more than two thousand years. This is late in relation to the deep cultural histories of surrounding areas in southern Amazonia and the Central Brazilian plateau, each boasting well-known sequences dating from the late Pleistocene, circa eleven thousand years ago,1 although this may well be an artifact of sampling. What the Upper Xingu lacks in time depth, it makes up for in veracity, however, as the period from A.D. 1000 to 2000 in the Upper Xingu is among the best known ethnographically and archaeologically in Amazonia.2 The known cultural history of the region begins by circa A.D. 500-800, and perhaps much earlier, with the colonization of the region by Arawak peoples.3 In this chapter, a basic chronology and description of major places is offered as a prelude to consideration, in Chapters 4 and 5, of the major tendencies and flows of Xinguano history over the past approximately five hundred years.