Ancient Brazilian Pit House Occupied Continuously For Centuries

Posted: Jul 15 2016, 8:00pm CDT | by , Updated: Jul 15 2016, 8:06pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Ancient Brazilian Pit House Occupied Continuously for Centuries
These are surface finishings in ceramics from a pit house site. Gregorio de Souza et al. (2016)

 Prehistoric proto-Jê Brazilian persons may have continually renovated and extended their pit houses to allow occupation over centuries, revealed a study.

Pit houses are covered buildings which are partly dug into the ground and were used by prehistoric South American proto-Jê people.

According to the study published in journal PLOS ONE, the researchers found that Campo Belo do Sul pit house had likely never been abandoned but was instead continually occupied and extended over the years.

Occupants built new floors on top of old buildings and the researchers found twelve well preserved floors in total, five of which were covered by completely burnt collapsed roofs.

It was previously thought that the proto-Jê pit house villages of the southern Brazilian highlands were abandoned and later reoccupied over time rather than inhabited continuously.

However, the authors of the present study re-examined this assumption and suggested that the home was occupied for over two centuries by a single family or group. As time went on they used different types of ceramics and techniques to renovate and update their home.

"Our research shows the disparity in domestic architecture in the southern Brazilian highlands. We have highlighted that it is important to use radiocarbon dating on individual structures to understand how and for how long the homes were occupied," said Jonas Gregorio de Souza from the University of Exeter.

The study provides insight into the permanent dwellings and elaborate architectural renewal rituals that existed in southern proto-Jê communities at this time.

"We now know more about the way these groups lived, and are able to challenge the view, dominant until relatively recently, that these were marginal cultures in the context of lowland South America," added de Souza.

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