II European Americanist Archaeology Meeting in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Thibault Saintenoy1,2, Márcia Lika Hattori3,4,5, Carla Jaimes6, Carolina Orsini7 & Mariusz Ziolkowski8

1Co-chair of EAA4Am Community
2Institute of Heritage Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council
3Co-chair of EAA4Am Community
4University of the Basque Country – UPV/EHU
5Universidade do Minho
6Museo delle culture de Milano
7University of Bonn
8University of Warsaw

II European Americanist Archaeology Meeting - EAA4Am in Santiago de Compostela - Spain. American Landscapes

Between 19 and 21 April 2023, the second European Assembly of Archaeology of the Americas will be held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The meeting is promoted by the EAA Community for the Archaeology of the Americas (EAA4Am), the Institute of Heritage Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council (INCIPIT-CSIC), and the Centre for Andean Studies of the University of Warsaw.

Organisers: Thibault Saintenoy, Márcia Lika Hattori, Carla Jaimes Betancourt, Carolina Orsini and Mariusz Ziolkowski.

Local Scientific Committee: Felipe Criado-Boado, Marcos Llobera and Cesar Parcero-Oubiña.


Landscapes in the Americas are a palimpsest of forms and meanings. Additionally, they have the particularity of often being composed of antagonistic elements, as they are the products of a history of radical and sometimes violent transformations. At the global level, European colonisation is responsible for one of the most profound and visible of these transformations, not only in terms of settlement patterns, environment, and material culture, but also in cosmological terms. Undoubtedly, the imposition of the naturalistic ontology brought about some of the most profound and long-lasting changes: by expelling non-humans into the realm of nature, the dualistic philosophy often oversimplified the social life of non-modern worlds and authorised the capitalist exploitation of the extreme West.

Despite territorial rearrangements, resource extraction and extirpations of idolatries, American landscapes often retain a rich material and biological memory of their pre-modern history, often hundreds or thousands of years deep. Of course, they also preserve numerous more recent traces of the modern history of Creole republics, nation-states, and indigenous societies right up to the present day.

Likewise, American historical processes (both global and local) have left traces everywhere, forming an immense field of archaeological research. Unlike in many other parts of the world, in many American regions, these traces can be found right there at our feet, visible to everyone. When the traces are more difficult to ascertain (concealed by the forest, for example), remote sensing can make them visible with increasingly realistic images. For this reason, the potential for producing knowledge about forgotten and/or invisibilised invisible pasts is often as great as the management and interpretation of these omnipresent historical legacies in the present can be problematic.

In this context, landscape archaeology becomes multifaceted. Both polysemic and integrative, the idea of landscape continues to raise many research questions, often creating transdisciplinary scientific fields. Proof of this is the convening of our scientific meeting on American landscapes. The meeting will bring together researchers from different horizons and with diverse interests, although all related to the fundamental diversity in the ways of inhabiting the Earth. On this occasion, indigenous cosmologies, ecology, modernity and heritage policies were the topics most addressed in the communication proposals of the participants. Thus, these points will form the four central poles of the colloquium.

The session on indigenous cosmologies will demonstrate why landscape archaeology is a fundamental tool for producing knowledge about the cultural diversity of conceptualisation and representation of the world developed in the Americas over the centuries. It will also reflect on the ontological characteristics of Amerindian and indigenous societies in terms of relations between humans and non-humans, and on the agency of entities such as mountains, skies, and bodies of water in non-modern worlds. Analyses of landscapes and monuments can illustrate how more or less ancient cultures constructed places and territories according to cosmological principles. Beyond the presentation of case studies, the session will also offer the opportunity to discuss the potential of landscape archaeology to produce information on the meaning of landscapes. We will ask to what extent the analysis of materiality allows us not only to identify the forms and devices of meaning production (how did they mean?), but also on the meanings themselves (what did they mean?) which are usually informed by ethnohistorical and/or ethnographic data.

The heritage session will provide an opportunity to reflect on the effects of global and national cultural and heritage policies on the meanings and uses of the past (and the management of its archaeological materialities) in the American countries. Despite having been forerunners in terms of the rights of Nature (as in the cases of Ecuador and Bolivia), American countries generally lack heritage and environmental regulations based on values that are the fruit of endogenous cultural dynamics. While it is true that certain global heritage labels, such as the UNESCO cultural landscape, make it possible to identify and register landscapes according to indigenous criteria, they do not prevent the conflicts produced by the perverse effects of heritagization (the essentialisation and commodification of cultures, touristification of territories, naturalisation and reification of landscapes, etc.). Along these lines, this session will provide a space for discussion on the practical and conceptual paradoxes of current policies for the recording and conservation of the heritage of American landscapes.

The session on ecology will highlight how landscapes are intimately related to dynamic interactions between anthropogenic and bioclimatic agents. It will examine historical processes of these ecological interactions (more or less symmetrical) as perceived through changes in the demography and distribution of plants and animals and the materiality of anthropic practices of management and spatial planning of the environment. The presentation of case studies combining archaeology and palaeoecology from the Amazon and the Andes will highlight the interdependent relationships between humans and non-humans, biotic and abiotic agents, and the effects (intentional and unintentional) of anthropogenic practices on biodiversity, and will do so at different temporal scales and interconnected geographic contexts. The session will also discuss the potential of archaeological research to assess current land use and highlight lessons from the past for socio-ecological sustainability. It will also reflect on the resilience of current indigenous peoples and traditional populations.

Finally, the session on Landscapes of Modernity will look at the relationships between historical processes in the Americas since European expansion, the development of modern philosophy and its effects on the shaping of the Western world. Talks will highlight the potential of archaeology to generate alternative views by integrating diverse sources of evidence (whether material, written or oral) on the transformations of societies and landscapes during colonial and later historical conjunctures. Case studies will connect the materiality of local microhistories with modern global processes, such as colonial slavery, industrial capitalist extractivism and contemporary political dictatorship. Through these, the session will allow us to discuss not only the potential of archaeology to produce specific scientific information on modern and contemporary histories, but also the role of the ruins of Modernity in our territories and landscapes.

Details of the sessions

The meeting includes twenty half-hour talks (and six five-minute posters), divided into the four thematic sessions described above. The sessions will be held on Thursday and Friday mornings and afternoons, between 9.30am and 5pm. A discussion space will be opened at the close of each thematic session.

Indigenous Cosmologies

Moderator: Carolina Orsini


  • "Why were Vilcabamba mountains so significant in the eyes of the Incas?", Thibault Saintenoy
  • "On the way to the meeting with the apus: ritual tambos of the Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu volcanoes in the Arequipa region", Mariusz Ziolkowski
  • "Three environments, three skies, three cosmovisions", A. César González-García "The collapse of a Monumental Landscape", Alexei Vranich and Erik J. Marsh
  • "Reconsidering the emergence of social differentiation in the Central Andes from the discovery of a burial at the site of La Capilla", Yuji Seki, Juan Pablo Villanueva and Daniel Morales Chocano


  • "Chronological and landscape variability of chullpa construction patterns in the Lauca altiplano (18°S) during Late Prehistoric and Early Colonial Occupation (1400-1700 cal. AD)", Cristian Gonzalez.
  • "The landscape dimensions of Tak'alik Ab'aj and investigations in the peripheral areas", Michał Gilewski, Christa Schieber de Lavarreda, Miguel Medina, Carlos Espigares, Geremías Claudio, Víctor Flores, Aldo Aleman, Kajetan Ogłaza and Karol Przychodzeń.

Questions and collective discussion:

Does landscape archaeology make sense for indigenous communities?


Moderators: David Barreiro and Jaime Almansa


  • "Heritage Landscapes in South America", Cristóbal Gnecco
  • "Lithic continuities. Implications of the concept of wak'a for the archaeological narratives and patrimonialisations of the Bolivian Altiplano", Juan Villanueva Críales
  • "Heritage and Territoriality: Perceptions of Past and Present Landscapes in the Moxos Plains", Carla Jaimes Betancourt
  • "Mapping the Archaeological Pre-Columbian Heritage in South America (MAPHSA)", Jonas Gregorio de Souza and Marco Madella

Questions and collective discussion:

Limits and possibilities of the heritage paradigm for the management of American pasts.


Moderator: Carla Jaimes Betancourt


  • "Amazonian Landscapes in Deep Time", Jose Iriarte.
  • "Between roads and forests: food landscapes in the geoglyphs of southwestern Amazonia during the late Holocene", Laura Pereira Furquim
  • "Demic diffusion and cultural exchange? Assessing the Koriabo pottery as an archaeological correlate of the Cariban-languages expansions across northern Amazon", Bruno de Souza Barreto
  • "Research carried out in the northern Guayas River basin reveals the material and cultural history of the western foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes", Nicolas Guillaume-Gentil
  • "The Cloud People of Naupallacta: Middle Horizon camelid management in the Hinterland of the Chicha Soras valley", Frank Meddens and Nicholas Branch.


  • "The manifold landscapes of maize. Agrarian change and social transformation in Early Modern Atlantic Iberia: case studies from the Bidasoa region", Josu Narbarte, Mattin Aiestaran, Aritz Diez-Oronoz, Oihane Mendizabal-Sandonís, Manex Arrastoa Mendizabal, Juantxo Agirre-Mauleón and Eneko Iriarte.
  • "Tracking the sabbur. Forest management through the ethnographic collections of Gunayala (Panama)", Nuria Romero Vidal
  • "The exploitation of lithic resources in the geological environment of the pre-Hispanic site of Sihó (Yucatán) through the physico-chemical analysis of limestone tools", Llorenç Pujol Pizà

Questions and collective discussion:

How can we learn from landscape archaeology to think about socio-ecological resilience in American regions?

Modern landscapes

Moderators: Ximena Senatore and Marcia Hattori


  • "The scars of landscape: archaeology of colonial maroonage and world-making in the Americas. The case of the Montes de María, 1650-1782, Bolívar-Colombia", Johana Caterina Mantilla Oliveros
    "A corrida pela borracha natural ou como processos locais e histórias globais moveram o mundo", Tiago Silva Alves Muniz.
  • "Landscapes of concealment - Forests, parks and abject places", Marcia Lika Hattori.


  • "Fields, productions and enslaved people in colonial times. El caso de Santa Cruz (Valle Viejo, Catamarca, Argentina)", Félix Retamero

Questions and collective discussion

How can archaeology make visible traces of violent pasts and what to do with their legacies?


  • "What does archaeology contribute to landscape studies?", Marcos Llobera

Questions and collective discussion

The crossroads of landscape in archaeological research: what is the landscape of landscape archaeology?

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