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date: 23 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Stone and ceramic figurines occurred in many pre-Columbian cultures of Amazonia but only appear as recurrent, traditional objects late in the cultural history of the region, primarily in the large settlements which flourished along the Lower Amazon and its estuaries. Marajoara and Santarém ceramics include an array of figurines depicting humans and animals, in languages emphasizing body transformation and reproduction, and, sometimes, decapitation. Some also performed as rattles, or maracas, an instrument traditionally related to shamanic power. Stone figurines from the Lower Amazon present similar modes of body representation and seem to be part of the drug paraphernalia used in shamanic rituals. Rather than being a marker for the appearance of more complex, agrarian societies, Amazonian figurines seem to be related to the intensification of deeply rooted shamanic practices. This chapter reviews the context and repertoires of figurine traditions within the different models proposed in Amazonian archaeology for pre-Columbian societies.

Keywords: figurines, Amazonian archeology, Lower Amazon, body transformation, shamanic rituals, drug paraphernalia

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