Did our ancestors live in tropical forests? Although we see the rainforest as a bountiful environment teeming with life forms, most anthropologists and archaeologists have long viewed these areas as too harsh for human occupation during the pre-agricultural stages of hominid development. Under the Canopy turns conventional wisdom on its head by providing a well-documented, geographically diverse overview of Stone Age sites in the wet tropics. New research indicates that, as humanity and its precursors increased their geographical and ecological ranges, rainforests were settled at a much earlier period than had previously been thought. Featuring the work of leading scholars from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Malaysia, Panama, Spain, and the United States, Under the Canopy creates a new niche in paleolithic studies: the archaeology of tropical rainforests. This book provides the first synthesis of archaeological research in early foraging sites across the rainforest zone, and indicates that tropical forests could harbor important clues to human evolution, origins of modern behavior, cultural diversity, and human impact on tropical ecosystems.
Julio Mercader is a professor of anthropology at the George Washington University. He has conducted numerous excavations in several African countries and has participated in archaeological research in Europe, Australia, and the New World.