BCHP 002 - The Pre-Columbian period (Quick History #1)

November 18, 2015

What was Brazil like before the arrival of the Portuguese? How did the early Amazonians live? Where did they come from and when?

Why did Europe finally sail into the west? What was going on in Spain and Portugal that prompted people to make the first dangerous voyages into the Atlantic?

It's a lot to cover, but, with a lot of reading, writing, recording, agonizing over what details to put in, which prompted some rewriting and rerecording, episode 2 is complete.

I almost split this into two episodes, but I really want to get through the 'quick history' stuff so we can start exploring various aspects Brazil's history and culture. There are many topics in this episode alone that are worthy of more thorough treatment, so please let me know in the comments if any of them in particular pique your interest.

Also, a map of Iberia at the beginning of the 14th. Surely easier to understand than my verbal attempt at describing the locations of the 5 kingdoms of Portugal, Castile, Aragon, Navarre and Granada.

Iberian Kingdoms in 1400


As promised in the podcast, I included the list of sources I used for this episode. It's a long list, but most of them are articles of only a few pages long. Unless you want to dig into the academic articles, I would instead recommend the two books in the list, "1491" and "1494". They're well researched but also well written so quite accessible. Enjoy!

Finally, there is some annoying background noise at times in the audio. I cleaned things up as best I could, but it's still noticeable here and there (although I did get manage to erase or record all the spots where my neighbor's fantastically annoying dog was barking). My apologies for the iffy quality here and there.



Charles C. Mann, "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus", Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 (book)

Stephen R. Bown, "1494: How a Family Feud in Medieval Spain Divided the World in Half", Thomas Dunne Books, 2012 (book)

Michael J. Heckenberger, et al., "Amazonia 1492: Pristine Forest or Cultural Parkland?", Science, September 19, 2003, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/301/5640/1710

Michael J. Heckenberger, et al., "The legacy of cultural landscapes in the Brazilian Amazon: implications for biodiversity", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 28 February 2007, vol. 362 no. 1478, http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/362/1478/197.full

William M. Denevan, "The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492", Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 82, No. 3, September 1992, http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~alcoze/for398/class/pristinemyth.html

Anna C. Roosevelt, "Paleoindian Cave Dwellers in the Amazon: The Peopling of the Americas", http://library.worldtracker.org/Science/Science%20Magazine/science%20magazine%201995-1996/root/data/Science%201995-1996/pdf/1996_v272_n5260/p5260_0373.pdf

W. George Lovell, “Heavy Shadows and Black Night: Disease and Depopulation in Colonial Spanish America", Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Volume 82, Issue 3, 1992, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8306.1992.tb01968.x

Nicholas Wade, "Tools Suggest Earlier Human Exit From Africa", New York Times, 27 January 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/science/28africa.html?pagewanted=all

Charles C. Mann, "The Real Dirt on Rainforest Fertility", Science, Vol. 297, 9 AUGUST 2002, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/297/5583/920

Pena SDJ, Di Pietro G, Fuchshuber-Moraes M, Genro JP, Hutz MH, et al. (2011),  "The Genomic Ancestry of Individuals from Different Geographical Regions of Brazil Is More Uniform Than Expected", PLoS ONE, http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0017063

Bruce Bower, "Disputed finds put humans in South America 22,000 years ago", Science News, April 20, 2013, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/disputed-finds-put-humans-south-america-22000-years-ago

University Of South Carolina, "New Evidence Puts Man In North America 50,000 Years Ago", ScienceDaily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041118104010.htm

Athena Review, An interview with Drs. Niède Guidon, "Pedra Furada, Brazil: Paleoindians, Paintings, and Paradoxes" http://www.athenapub.com/10pfurad.htm

Dallas Morning News, "Central Texas site holds North America’s oldest proof of human settlement, researchers say", March 24, 2011, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20110324-central-texas-site-holds-north-americas-oldest-proof-of-human-settlement-researchers-say.ece

BBC documentary "Unnatural Histories", Episode 3: "Amazon". http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0122njp


BCHP 001 - Geology & Geography

November 18, 2015

Today we cover a very tiny amount of the geology & geography of South American and a more substantial, but still limited, amount of Brazil's physical and political geography. I also tacked on a thumbnail sketch of how the government is organized today since it seemed to go well enough after the political geography.

Go the the web site to read more.

Going forward I'll provide lists of unfamiliar terms and names in the podcast descriptions. This episode's terms & people are:

  • Iquitos, Peru - the furthest city upstream from the ocean than can be reached by ocean-going vessels via the Amazon.
  • Pantanal - a huge, perrenial wetland in the west.
  • Cerrado - the grasslands of the south.
  • Caatinga - the dry scrubland of the northeast.
  • Mata Atlântica - the forest of the southern coast.
  • Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer - the president and vice-president respectively.
  • Henrique Eduardo Alves - president of the lower legislature, the Chamber of Deputies
  • Renan Calheiros - president of the upper legislation, the Federal Senate.
  • Supremo Tribunal Federal or STF - the supreme court.
  • Joaquim Barbosa - president of the STF.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these three maps are worth more than the text of the episode itself (which came in at 2,250 words).

Public domain image from USGS.

The South American tectonic plate, its neighbors, and directions of movement


Regions of Brazil, image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, by Felipe Menegaz

 The 5 regions of Brazil and the states that comprise them.


Amazon rainforest, public domain image from NASA, lines added by Plfy and me.

The green line marks the limit of the Amazon Basin while the yellow the limit of the Rainforest.



BCHP 000 - Introduction

October 19, 2015

Wherein I introduce myself and the podcast.

For more information about this episode and the podcast in general, visit the website, http://brazilcultureandhistory.com/.