America’s Intermediate Area in the pre-Columbian Era
FED-tWIN is a federal research program of the Federal Public Service Science Policy Programming Service (BELSPO) with the aim of stimulating sustainable cooperation between ten federal science institutions and Belgian Universities through the funding of joint research profiles.
Summary of the project
The study of pre-Columbian civilizations holds a prominent position both in the RMAH and the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles). Ancient America is divided by researchers into four major geo-cultural areas: North America (from the Arctic Circle to the northern half of Mexico), Mesoamerica (Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, part of Honduras and El Salvador), Central America (including the Isthmus of Panama) and South America. The pre-Columbian period runs from the man’s arrival on the continent around 25,000 BP until the Spanish conquest during the sixteenth century.
The B-tWIN Americas project aims to bring together the two Belgian Americanist centers of excellence through an ambitious long-term study of the Central American zone and the neighboring Southern regions in the pre-Columbian era, that is to say Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. For the sake of clarity, it will be referred to here as "the Intermediate Area". Apparently, this region has played a decisive role in the development of certain aspects of pre-Hispanic societies. It is sometimes presented as a home of origin, an exchange crossroads or a springboard for the transmission of various cultural traits between the two great parts of the New World. Although poorly known, these links and communications networks have intertwined for several thousand years in this hinge region that connects the Meso, Central and Southern parts of the American continent.
What characterizes the pre-Hispanic cultures of the Intermediate Area? Are there similarities and / or divergences between their various productions? How were the different goods of material culture produced? Did contacts exist between these cultures and / or those of Mesoamerica or Andes? And if so, since when? In a continuous or discontinuous way? Were the contacts direct or indirect? Via intermediaries? What was the nature of these contacts? Did it involve transmissions of knowledge or know-how? So many questions to which the B-tWIN Americas project intends to answer thanks to close collaboration between the RMAH and the ULB.
Serge Lemaitre (RMAH) and Peter Eeckhout (ULB)