University of São Paulo: Analysis of chipped stone tips indicates a technological tradition of more than 8 thousand years

Researchers analyzed chipped stone tips made by a population that lived in Brazil between 11,000 and 5,000 years ago and observed that the technology for manufacturing these tools remained constant through these millennia, indicating a strong technical tradition in this society, which may have been motivated by pragmatic or cultural factors.

The study was carried out using materials collected at the Pororó archaeological site, in Alto Vale do Jacuí, Rio Grande do Sul (RS), which was discovered in 2010. The excavations were carried out by archaeologist Saul Milder, from the Federal University of Santa Maria, who died in 2014 and unfortunately did not get to see the latest results of the project.

Based on Milder’s work, researchers João Carlos Moreno de Sousa, from the Laboratory of Human Evolutionary Studies at the Institute of Biosciences (IB) at USP, and Anderson Marques Garcia, from the Department of Archeology at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) ), conducted a reassessment of the chipped stone tips found at the site, through a new protocol proposed by Moreno de Sousa in a 2020 article , which seeks to pay attention to the way these tools are produced and standardize this type of analysis to facilitate the comparison of work done by different scientists.

When analyzing the Pororó artifacts, they observed that the objects had the same characteristics of the lithic industry (an archaeological term that defines the set of forms of large-scale production of tools, one of the aspects of a culture) found in other regions of Rio Grande. do Sul, and which Moreno de Sousa had already described in his doctorate, in 2019, and called “Cultura Garivaldinense”, in reference to the Afonso Garivaldino Rodrigues site, in the Médio Vale Rio Jacuí, where it was recorded for the first time.

This is interesting not only because of the new location, but also because the artifacts from the Pororó site are dated to 2,500 years ago, and the most recent dating of this lithic industry that had been done earlier was 7,000 years ago. The researcher also says that more recent dates of 5,000 years have already been found after that, but the gap is still significant.



Location of the Pororó Archaeological Site, in the Alto Vale do Jacuí (RS) – Image: Reproduction
The discovery reinforces something already known: this lithic industry has spent millennia with virtually no change. “Despite the emergence of new types of tips and other tools, some traditions persist, as if they were something very strong in the social memory of these groups, perhaps a matter of social identity”, comments Moreno de Sousa to Jornal da USP . “It could also have been a matter of these instruments having proved to be very efficient for the purposes of these peoples, with no need for change”, adds Garcia.

The article on the tips is part of a larger project that seeks to investigate the diversity and cultural evolution of the first hunter-gatherer peoples of the Southeast and South regions of Brazil.


Three types of spikes were identified at the Garivaldino site: garivaldinense spike (A and C), montenegro spike (B) and brochier spike (D). Of these three, only the brochier does not appear on the Pororó site, where a new model was also found, called the Pororó point -Image: Reproduction
“For a long time in archeology, all hunter-gatherer peoples who produced these chipped stone tips and lived in the Americas between 14,000 years ago and European colonization were categorized as the ‘Umbu Tradition’, which initially described a specific period in the northeast of RS and ended up being generalized as a category. But when we observe this long-lasting continuity of the technologies of the Garivaldinense Culture and compare, for example, with other technologies from the South and Southeast, which are very different, we notice that these societies were quite culturally diverse and cannot be treated as a homogeneous group”, he explains. Moreno de Souza.


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Importance of collaboration with local residents

The researchers say that, in many cases, research like this can only be done thanks to the collaboration of local residents. Garcia cites the positive example of Lucas Somavilla, owner of the farm where the Pororó site is located, who took the initiative of contacting the University on his own, and appeals to other people to have the same trust:

“It is very important when local residents make this contact and donate the finds to the museums, because without this the artifacts will never be studied and even those people who discovered them will not receive due credit. No one needs to be afraid of archaeologists taking the materials, much less losing their land, because that’s not going to happen.”

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