Peterborough Chapter - Sambaquis - Brazilian shell mound sites

  • October 15, 2019
  • 7:00 PM
  • Gzowski College, Trent U. Rm. 106

Speaker: Otis Crandell

Talk: Sambaquis - Brazilian shell mound sites

This talk will present a study of shell mound sites (known locally as "sambaquis") in the coastal region of southern Brazil. In this region, some of these sites date back to over 5000 BP but the youngest shell mounds were created as recently as 1200 BP. There is much debate about the function or functions of the sites but it is likely that they served different purposes. Some are believed to be landmarks or monuments (the largest in Paraná state being over 30 m tall). Some appear to have had a short period of use and may have been connected to the nearby larger ones.

 One of the objectives of the study is to identify spatial patterns in shell mounds in order to better understand how locations were chosen and also to allow the state archaeologists to better protect areas with a high probability of having undocumented sites. This is particularly important in this region as a lot of the area is difficult to access - without a boat - a lot of the area being rivers and mangroves. After creating a prediction map based on a data from known shell mound sites in the region, areas of high and low potential were visited to evaluate the predictions.

Mr. Crandell first studied anthropology at Laurentian University in 1993, with a particular interest in archaeology. After graduating, he worked on various field projects in Europe and Asia and did lab work related to archaeopetrography. He also did post-graduate research in Romania investigating Neolithic trade routes - specifically looking at lithic materials and artefacts. He has also worked on a few projects related to ceramics analyses. For the past three years he has been working on a project involving spatial analysis and predictive models of prehistoric sites in southern Brazil. For the past year and half this has focused on shell mound sites.

This presentation is made possible through the support of the City of Peterborough and the Trent U. Archaeological Research Centre.  Members of the public are invited. For further information contact the chapter secretary, Dirk Verhulst, at

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