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Case studies

In this section, you can read case studies from some of our current postgraduate students attached to the Centre for the Archaeology of the Americas. Find out more about their research interests, their previous experiences, and the route they took to studying at Exeter by clicking on their names below:

Case study: Jonas Gregorio de Souza

Dissertation title - Pathways to power in the southern Brazilian highlands: architectural diversity, function, and change in Taquara/Itarare ceremonial centres

About me

I graduated with a BA in History at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in 2009. After that, I continued my studies, completing my MA in Archaeology at the University of Sao Paulo in 2012. I am currently a doctoral student at the University of Exeter, funded by a scholarship from the CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education, Brazil.

I have been involved in the archaeology of the southern Brazilian highlands since 2006, participating in excavations both in Brazil and Argentina. In my current research project I will survey an unmapped area of southern Brazil and integrate the results into a wider GIS database to test different settlement system models of the Taquara/Itarare tradition. Besides traditional field surveying techniques I intend to use remote sensing and aerial photographs to further reconstruct past landscapes. I will also excavate a recently discovered mound and enclosure complex to investigate changes in mortuary architecture through time and its correlation to the emergence of chiefdoms in the region.

Research interests

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Settlement systems
  • Ceremonial architecture
  • Early Formative (Neolithic) societies
  • Emergence of complex societies

Articles published in peer-reviewed journals

2013 "A diversidade dos sitios arqueologicos Je do Sul no estado do Parana". Cadernos do LEPAARQ, 10 (20): 93–130. With Fabiana Terhaag Merencio.

2011 "Aterros e monticulos funerarios Je do Sul". Revista do MAE, Sup 11: 89–94.

2010 "Novas perspectivas sobre a arquitetura ritual do planalto meridional brasileiro: pesquisas recentes em Pinhal da Serra, RS". Revista de Arqueologia, 23 (2): 98–111. With Silvia Moehlecke Cope.

Published book chapters

2011 "Prospeccao arqueologica no baixo vale do rio Iguacu (PR): resultados e perspectivas de pesquisa". In Arqueologia no Sul do Brasil, edited by Arthur Barcellos, Claudia Parellada and Juliano Campos. Criciuma: Unesc, pp. 343–364. With Fabiana Terhaag Merencio.


I have lectured with a temporary contract at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in 2012, teaching archaeology, prehistory, and ancient history for first year undergraduate students.

Case study: Lautaro Maximilian Hilbert

Doctoral Candidate in Archaeology, commencing September 2013

Dissertation title: Amazonian Dark Earth Agroecosystems do Amazonas Central

About me

I have been involved in zooarchaeological and archaeological research in South Brazil for over 4 years. I took my Undergraduate and Masters course in Biological sciences in the Pontifical University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Before I got involved in archaeology, I studied Ictiology, Entomology, Mastozoology and Herpetology. Alongside my interest in analysing zoological structures, I got involved in my studies by helping in the identification of archaeological animal remains in the laboratory of archaeology in the Science and Technology Museum of Porto Alegre. Combining my knowledge in zoology, especially ictiology, I took my masters research in Ictioarchaeology, which granted me the degree in Masters of Science. My dissertation adviser was Carlos Alberto Santos de Lucena, Icthyologist curator of the Science and Technology Museum of Porto Alegre. My dissertation was focused on identifying all the fish-related remains (bone, tooth, otolith and scales) in three chronologically different shellmounds, and, by doing so, trying to obtain a correlation between them.

Right after I defended my Masters dissertation I got involved in Amazonian archaeology. As a biologist I got interested in expanding my overall knowledge in the different interdisciplinary (bioarchaeological) studies that archaeology aims. In so doing I began my PhD in Paleobotany in the University of Exeter with José Iriarte.

Summary of professional and research experience

I specialise in analysing south Brazilian zoological (mainly ictiological and malacological) remains and their evolutionary relationship.

Relevant publications

Hilbert L. M. and Lucena, Z. M. S. de Uma Abordagem Zooarqueológica no Estudo dos Ossos de Peixes na Cultura Sambaquiana In: VI Encontro SAB Sul – Núcleo Regional Sul da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira, 2008, Tubarão-SC. SAMEC-editora, 2008. p.68 – 68

Hilbert L. M. Análise Ictioarqueológica Dos Sítios: Sambaqui Do Recreio, Itapeva E Dorva, Municípios De Torres E Três Cachoeiras, Rio Grande Do Sul. In: IV Mostra de Pesquisa da Pós-Graduação PUCRS, 2009, Porto Alegre. Porto Alege: EDIPUCRS - Publicação Eletrônica, 2009. v. IV.

Hilbert, K. P. K.; Peretti, G. W.; Hilbert, L. M. and Silva, L. A. Anealise Ictioarqueológica dos Sambaquis: Itapeva, Recreio, Sereia do Mar e Figueira, 2011. (Relatório de pesquisa).

Hilbert, L. M. Manual Básico de Identificação da Ictiofauna dos Sambaquis do Rio Grande do Sul, 2011.

Hilbert, L. M; Peretti, G. W.; Hilbert, K. P. K. and Silva, L. A. Pescadores e Pescados: Teorias e métodos Ictioarqueológicas no litoral norte do Rio Grande do Sul. PUCRS: Porto Alegre, 2011.

Case study: Carlos Salgado Ceballos

Dissertation title - Regional strategies and interregional dynamics: a study of ceramic production and distribution in pre-Hispanic Colima, Mexico (500–1000AD)

About me

I have been involved in excavations, surveys and research in different regions of Mexico for over ten years. Most of my fieldwork experience was built on rescue and salvage archaeology done in west Mexico. I have a particular interest in the use of archaeometric techniques to gain insight into social issues behind the production and circulation of archaeological materials. For my Masters research I did archaeometric analyses on ceramics and mud bricks recovered at the Late Bronze Age site of Tilla Bulak (southern Uzbekistan), interpreting the results in terms of the likelihood of local ceramic production at the site.

My current research is a continuation of my study of the ceramics from the Colima and Armería phases of the central axis of Colima, Mexico, which started with my Licenciatura thesis. This time I am relying on provenance and technological studies of pottery, and on the spatial and historical analysis of my research area, in order to define network patterns, conduits of communication, and the boundaries, nature and time depth of regions/territories. In short, by exploring the long-term trends in material culture production and distribution I aim to understand archaeological and historical social formations.

My PhD, as was the case with my MSc, is funded by the National Council on Science and Technology (CONACyT) of Mexico. Most of the archaeometric analyses are being done with the support of the Nuclear Research Institute (ININ) of Mexico.

Academic Qualifications

Licenciatura in Anthropology with specialization in Archaeology (Universidad de las Américas-Puebla, Mexico 2009)

MSc in The Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials (University College London, United Kingdom 2011)

Case study: Daiana Travassos Alves

Dissertation title - Food consumption in Pre-Columbian Amazonia: paleobotanical research at the Porto de Santarem Site

About me

I graduated with a BA in History from the Federal University of Para, Brazil, in 2010. Then I started a MA in Anthropology with concentration in Archaeology at the same institution, which I finished in 2012. Currently, I am a PhD student at the University of Exeter, funded by a scholarship from the CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education, Brazil.

I have been involved in Amazonian archaeology since 2007, integrating research team both in Marajo Island and in Santarem area. My current research project aims to investigate plant food consumption at the Porto de Santarem site and the landscape transformation caused by the intensive cultivation of the riverine areas. This site presents a long term sequence of human occupation that includes Santarem period (960 ±30 BP), related with a regional organised, densely populated, and agricultural based society. This period is also associated which the Amazonian Dark Earth formation at the site. I will apply a combined approach of Archaeology and Paleobotany methodologies that I believe can provide different data about the subject, and permits a better comprehension of ecological aspects of pre-Columbian land-use and its environmental impacts. I have been participating in excavation seasons at the site since 2007, and at the last ones I had collected artefactual and botanical remains which will be analysed for the research purposes. The analyses include extraction and identification of phytoliths from both artefacts and soil samples, and the identification of macro botanical material.

Research interests

  • Landscape archaeology
  • Amazonian Dark Earth formation
  • Archaeobotanical remains
  • Historical Ecology
  • Land-use legacy
  • Human-environment interactions
  • Material culture
  • Emergence of complex societies

Articles published in peer-reviewed journals

2011 ”Os bancos de cerâmica marajoara: seus contextos e possíveis significados simbólicos”. Amazônica: Revista de Antropologia (Online) 3: 108–141. With Denise Pahl Schaan.

Published book chapters

2012 “Arqueologia, história e a construção do passado Tapajó”. In Arqueologia, patrimônio e multiculturalismo na beira da estrada: pesquisando ao longo das rodovias Transamazônica e Santarém-Cuiabá, Denise P. Schaan. (Org.). Belém: GKNoronha, pp. 11–16.

Other Publications

2009 “Assentos para chefes e Pajés? Um estudo dos bancos cerâmicos do Marajó”. In Anais do XV Congresso da Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasileira. Belém.


I integrated a group of students who led an extension course in archaeology at Federal University of Para, Brazil, in 2011, teaching Material Culture classes.

Editorial positions

Since 2012 I have been Assistant Editor at Amazônica: Revista de Antropologia (online), an international journal committed to encouraging the debate, construction of knowledge, and sharing of results of scientific research related to Amazonian native populations in the four fields of anthropology.