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Sambaqui, word of Tupi origin (tãba'ki) designating shell mounds, archaeological sites found in Brazilian seashore paleo-environments near rivers, lagoons, and mangroves. These shell mounds consist mainly of large accumulations of mollusk shells, remains of crustaceans, and fish bones from seasonal campsites of small prehistoric groups of coastal fishermen and collectors. In spite of the similar sources of subsistence of these groups, adaptive variations characterize the sambaqui. Different types resulted from successive or simultaneous phases of intense collecting of mollusks and phases of intense gathering of crustaceans and/or catching of fish, followed by hunting as well as fruit collecting. Sambaquis offer clues into past shorelines, changes in sea-level, and marine life. The term sambaqui has synonyms: in São Paulo and Santa Catarina shell mounds are casqueiro, concheira, or ostreira; in Pará, cernambi or sarnambi; in other places, samauqui, caieira, or caleira and even "island of shell." In English, it is a "shell" or "kitchen-midden."

See alsoArchaeology .


Lina Maria Kneip et al., Pesquisas arqueológicas no litoral de Itaipú (1981), and Coletores e pescadores pré-históricos de Guaratiba (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Barbosa, Márcia, and Maria Dulce Gaspar. Bibliografia bra-sileira sobre pescadores, coletores e caçacores pré-históricos litorâneos e ribeirinhos. Rio de Janeiro: Museu Nacional, 1998.

Gaspar, Madu. Sambaqui: Arquelogia do litoral Brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2000.

Johnson, Lucille Lewis, and Melanie Stright, eds. Paleo-shorelines and Prehistory: An Investigation of Method. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 1992.

                                  Charlotte Emmerich