Amazonia (Paperback)

Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise, Revised Edition

By Betty J. Meggers

Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 9781560986553, 214pp.

Publication Date: July 17, 1996

List Price: 37.95*
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When first published in 1971, Amazonia was a pioneering contribution to the emerging field of cultural ecology. Betty Meggers argued that the Amazon's luxurious vegetation concealed significant limitations for human exploitation, placing a ceiling on pre-Columbian population density and social complexity. This controversial view has implications for academic anthropology and also relates to the modern development of Amazonia, including attempts to introduce sustainable methods of intensive exploitation.

Amazonia in this revised new edition includes recent biological and climatic data. Ethnographic and archaeological evidence reemphasize the complexity of the ecosystem and broaden our understanding of past and present sophisticated adaptations among indigenous groups.

About the Author

Betty J. Meggers is a research anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Instituion, and an honorary fellow of the Association for Tropical Biology.

Praise For Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise, Revised Edition

Amazonia provides the most comprehensive anthropological discussion so far of the Amazon basin as a human habitat. . . . This book specifies variables influencing cultural adaptation in the Amazon basin and presents a set of general principles constituting a theory of cultural evolution. In two descriptive sections of the book, Meggers analyzes the selective pressures in two distinct geographical zones: the terra firme or unflooded land, and the várzea or periodic floodplain. (Ellen B. Bass Science)

Meggers has marshalled an impressive argument on the ecological imperatives of a truly unique Amazonia. . . . We are given a well-written and quite thorough description of the physical features of the two zones and a series of ethnographic vignettes to illustrate the action of cultural adaptation. (Man)

An excellent, concise statement of the facts of the ecology of humid tropical lowlands, systematic descriptions of a number of widely spread Amazonian cultures, and a skillful integration of these two bodies of knowledge. The result is a demonstration that cultures are as surely subject to and molded by natural selection and environmental characteristics as are species of plants and animals. . . . Amazonia will inevitably be a basic text for the field of tropical ecology. (F. R. Fosberg Ecology)