Lapa Vermelha

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Lapa Vermelha

The archaeological site Lapa Vermelha, a complex of rock-shelters and caves, is located at Pedro Leopoldo, approximately 30 kilometers from Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Lapa Vermelha IV is one of the shelters and caves to be systematically excavated. Excavations at Lapa Vermelha IV, which stopped at approximately 13 meters below the surface, were carried out from 1971 to 1976 by a French-Brazilian mission led by Annette Laming-Emperaire. In general, the site was very poor in terms of evidence of human occupation, with occasional hearths and dispersed stony debris of quartz distributed along the geologic layers. Dates from present until circa 23 bce were obtained by regular carbon-14 applied to charcoal. Stone tools unequivocally produced by humans were found until circa 10 bce. However, a very fine stone tool and some stone flakes were found associated to a level dated to circa 13 bce. Natural vertical transportation from higher levels could not peremptorily be ruled out as a possible explanation for such an early date. The most important finding at Lapa Vermelha IV was the human skeleton later known as "Luzia," one of the oldest, if not the oldest, human skeleton ever found in the Americas. Like other early human skeletons from South and Central America, Luzia exhibits a cranial morphology very different from late and modern Amerindians, showing a remarkable similarity with present Australians and Melanesians.

See alsoArchaeology .


Laming-Emperaire, Annette. "Missions archéologiques franque-brésiliennes de Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais, Brésil: Lê grand abris de Lapa Vermelha (P.L.)." Revista de Pré-História 1, no. 1 (1979): 53-89.

Neves, Walter Alves, Joseph Powell, and Erik Ozolins. "Extra-Continental Morphological Affinities of Lapa Vermelha IV, Hominid 1: A Multivariate Analysis with Progressive Numbers of Variables." Homo 50, no. 3 (1999): 263-282.

Prous, André. "L'archéologie au Brésil: 300 Siècles d'occupation humaine." L'Anthropologie 90, no. 2 (1986): 257-306.

                                             Walter A. Neves