Stéphen Rostain’s book is a culmination of 25 years of research on the extensive human modification of the wetlands environment of Guiana and how it reshapes our thinking of ancient settlement in lowland South America and other tropical zones. Rostain demonstrates that populations were capable of developing intensive raised-field agriculture, which supported significant human density, and construct causeways, habitation mounds, canals, and reservoirs to meet their needs. The work is comparative in every sense, drawing on ethnology, ethnohistory, ecology, and geography; contrasting island Guiana with other wetland regions around the world; and examining millennia of pre-Columbian settlement and colonial occupation alike. Rostain’s work demands a radical rethinking of conventional wisdom about settlement in tropical lowlands and landscape management by its inhabitants over the course of millennia.
"This book is part of a new phase in Amazonian cultural geography and anthropology, and shows that the field is branching and spreading…As landscape archaeology and geography of the Amazon develops, this book can serve as a key text on raised field agriculture in a particular geographic context, and as an introduction to pre-Columbian agricultural systems more generally."
- John Walker, University of Central Florida, AAG Review of Books