The Amazon Basin is now recognized as a cradle of cultural and technological innovation in the ancient Americas. It was there that the hemisphere's earliest known ceramics (ca. 5000 b.c.) were produced. Located at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil, Maraj Island was home to one of the region's most populous and sophisticated ancient societies (a.d. 300-1300). Island chiefdoms built impressive mounds to support multifamily longhouses, ceremonial spaces, and cemeteries, and constructed channels, dams, and weirs to trap huge quantities of fish as the annual floodwaters receded. Aquaculture, rather than agriculture, provided the primary source of subsistence for the Maraj people. Their beautifully decorated ceramics reveal the skill and artistry of Amazonian potters and the complexity of their cosmology.
Lavishly illustrated, this volume presents ceramics from the Denver Art Museum, Barbier-Mueller Museums of Geneva and Barcelona, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, and private collections. Included are boldly painted burial urns, delicately incised figures, intricately carved and painted jars, bowls, and plates, and unique circular ceramic stools. Margaret Young-S nchez and Denise Pahl Schaan's essays describe Maraj culture, ceramics, and funerary practices. Maps and photographs round out this important contribution to South American art history and archaeology.