We are pleased to announce a symposium hosted by the Terra Preta Program of Wageningen University and partners on 30th June, 2015. We have an excellent selection of international speakers who will give talks ranging from the archaeology of Amazonia through to the chemistry of pyrogenic carbon, the main distinguishing feature of Terra preta. The symposium will function as a warm up and introduction to the subject in preparation for three candidates of the Terra Preta Program who will defend their thesis in the Aula of Wageningen on the 1st July 2015.
“Terra preta” (black soils in Portuguese) are fertile anthropogenic soils found in the Amazon basin. They are recognized by abundant presence of charcoal resulting in their dark colour, high amounts of phosphorus and calcium, and signs of human influence (e.g. high quantities of pottery shards). These soils are remnants of ancient, pre-Columbian societies and were generally created between 3000 and 500 years BP, with the earliest report being 5000 years BP.
Terra preta was first described by Orton (1870), and was mentioned by several other Amazon naturalist in the following decades. Their discovery did not have much impact until the last two decades, when the interest for terra preta increased exponentially. There are, however, still many unanswered questions regarding their origin, distribution and properties. Work undertaken in the Terra Preta Program aimed to answer some of these questions. The program takes place in three different countries (Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia), and is being executed jointly by partners from Wageningen University and these countries. A total of 6 PhD candidates are currently supported by the program, 3 of whom will defend their doctoral theses on 1st July in Wageningen, with the others due to submit their theses in the near future.