Water, movement and landscape ordering: A GIS-based analysis for understanding the mobility system of late Holocene mound-builders in southern Brazil

Publication date: November 2019

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 111

Author(s): Rafael Guedes Milheira, Jonas Gregorio De Souza, José Iriarte


The present paper shows a GIS-based analysis for understanding the mobility system of the mound-builders (cerriteiros) of Patos and Mirim lagoons, located in southern Brazil, during the late Holocene. A geospatial model of mobility and centrality was developed using the least-cost path and network analysis methodologies. The degree of traffic and the settlement centrality allowed the interpretation of movement patterns and the connectivity of people in the coastal aquatic environment. The comparison between the terrestrial and aquatic models of mobility illustrates the permeability of the landscape suggesting the higher efficiency of movement via canoe in some environments as opposed to a purely walking-based model. Considering the GIS modeling and the archaeological and ethnohistorical data, we suggest that settlement and mobility patterns in some parts of the coastal plains were driven by the water-heavy landscape and the settlement positioning acted as mechanism of ordering the landscape.