Losing the Past

Brazil’s Threatened Archeological
Sites Include the Little Horny Man

In the 1970s Brazilians heard often that theirs was ‘the country of the future.’ The cliche was a weapon in the psychological warfare military rulers waged against those it could not control. And it met its match, in the form of a perfect comeback: ‘We just need to survive till then.’
Brazil may not be waiting any longer for that future, but its past may be gone even before it reaches it: recently discovered sites of ancient human occupation are already under threat. Mining and World Cup projects, and lack of regulation may doom efforts to preserve them.
Archeologists are racing to document and study more countless sites in several states where human artifacts and markings have been dated to some 8,000 years ago, before miners start digging for minerals, and construction crews rushed to finish long-delayed infrastructure projects. There’s little question about where the odds stack in this race.
It doesn’t help the situation the fact that the archeologists’ cause is far from being as popular as the Amazon Rainforest, or the indigenous peoples living in there. Although still facing the prospect of a quick demise, the cause for preservation of the forest has plenty of support and even glamour enough to remain relevant.
Archeological digs, on the other hand, are notoriously devoid of much appeal. The process of finding signs of early humans is daunting and time consuming, and often ignites more questions than answers about our origins. In other words, not sexy enough to justify annual, star-studded concerts at Carnegie Hall.
On top of that, or rather underneath it all, is the fact that Continue reading