THE ABORIGINAL CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE LLANOS DE MOJOS OF BOLIVIA.
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES-NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC FOREIGN FIELD RESEARCH PROGRAM
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The Llanos de Mojos is a seasonally flooded savanna occupying about 90,000 square miles between the Beni and Guapore Rivers in northwestern Bolivia. Mojos chiefdoms had achieved a remarkably sophisticated society and technology in a hostile environment characterized by alternating seasonal flooding and drought and generally poor soils. The main purpose of this study is to examine the means by which these peoples dealt with these problems and modified the landscape to accommodate relatively large populations. Today, the economy is cattle ranching shifting cultivation is practiced in the gallery forests and scattered forest islas, but the savannas are not cultivated. Prior to Spanish conquest, however, the savanna tribes of Mojos adapted to flooding by constructing various types of earthworks to provide dry ground for habitation, communication, and cultivation. These earthworks, still visible in the present landscape, include several hundred artificial mounds, at least 1,000 miles of causeways and canals, and at least 40,000 linear drained fields. Most significant are the drained fields, the only major example of savanna cultiviation in South America. This study gives considerable background on the physical geography of Mojos, the historical geography of Mojos under European control, and, cultural adaptations to poor drainage elsewhere in tropical America. Conclusions are presented about the Mojos chiefdoms and their achievements in terms of origins, decline, lasting impact on the landscape and cultural ecology, with some final remarks on habitat, subsistence, culture, and population in tropical savanna lands. Author
- Humanities and History