Episode 2 – The Pre-Columbian period

What was Brazil like before the arrival of the Portuguese? How did the early Amazonians live? Where did they come from and when?

Why did Europe finally sail into the west? What was going on in Spain and Portugal that prompted people to make the first dangerous voyages into the Atlantic?

It’s a lot to cover, but, with a lot of reading, writing, recording, agonizing over what details to put in, which prompted some rewriting and rerecording, episode 2 is complete.

Download this episode (right click and save).

I almost split this into two episodes, but I really want to get through the ‘quick history’ stuff so we can start exploring various aspects Brazil’s history and culture. There are many topics in this episode alone that are worthy of more thorough treatment, so please let me know in the comments if any of them in particular pique your interest.

Also, a map of Iberia at the beginning of the 14th. Surely easier to understand than my verbal attempt at describing the locations of the 5 kingdoms of Portugal, Castile, Aragon, Navarre and Granada.

Iberian Kingdoms in 1400


As promised in the podcast, I included the list of sources I used for this episode. It’s a long list, but most of them are articles of only a few pages long. Unless you want to dig into the academic articles, I would instead recommend the two books in the list, “1491” and “1494”. They’re well researched but also well written so quite accessible. Enjoy!

Finally, there is some annoying background noise at times in the audio. I cleaned things up as best I could, but it’s still noticeable here and there (although I did get manage to erase or record all the spots where my neighbor’s fantastically annoying dog was barking). My apologies for the iffy quality here and there.



Charles C. Mann, “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus“, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 (book)

Stephen R. Bown, “1494: How a Family Feud in Medieval Spain Divided the World in Half“, Thomas Dunne Books, 2012 (book)

Michael J. Heckenberger, et al., “Amazonia 1492: Pristine Forest or Cultural Parkland?”, Science, September 19, 2003, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/301/5640/1710

Michael J. Heckenberger, et al., “The legacy of cultural landscapes in the Brazilian Amazon: implications for biodiversity”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 28 February 2007, vol. 362 no. 1478, http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/362/1478/197.full

William M. Denevan, “The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 82, No. 3, September 1992, http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~alcoze/for398/class/pristinemyth.html

Anna C. Roosevelt, “Paleoindian Cave Dwellers in the Amazon: The Peopling of the Americas”, http://library.worldtracker.org/Science/Science%20Magazine/science%20magazine%201995-1996/root/data/Science%201995-1996/pdf/1996_v272_n5260/p5260_0373.pdf

W. George Lovell, “Heavy Shadows and Black Night: Disease and Depopulation in Colonial Spanish America”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Volume 82, Issue 3, 1992, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8306.1992.tb01968.x

Nicholas Wade, “Tools Suggest Earlier Human Exit From Africa”, New York Times, 27 January 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/science/28africa.html?pagewanted=all

Charles C. Mann, “The Real Dirt on Rainforest Fertility”, Science, Vol. 297, 9 AUGUST 2002, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/297/5583/920

Pena SDJ, Di Pietro G, Fuchshuber-Moraes M, Genro JP, Hutz MH, et al. (2011),  “The Genomic Ancestry of Individuals from Different Geographical Regions of Brazil Is More Uniform Than Expected”, PLoS ONE, http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0017063

Bruce Bower, “Disputed finds put humans in South America 22,000 years ago”, Science News, April 20, 2013, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/disputed-finds-put-humans-south-america-22000-years-ago

University Of South Carolina, “New Evidence Puts Man In North America 50,000 Years Ago”, ScienceDaily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041118104010.htm

Athena Review, An interview with Drs. Niède Guidon, “Pedra Furada, Brazil: Paleoindians, Paintings, and Paradoxes” http://www.athenapub.com/10pfurad.htm

Dallas Morning News, “Central Texas site holds North America’s oldest proof of human settlement, researchers say”, March 24, 2011, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20110324-central-texas-site-holds-north-americas-oldest-proof-of-human-settlement-researchers-say.ece

BBC documentary “Unnatural Histories”, Episode 3: “Amazon”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0122njp


Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...