Rocío López: A Geoarchaeological Approach to the Materiality and Historical Ecology of Earth Mounds in Uruguay

Rocío López is a geoarchaeologist currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Florida, where she examines how and why mid-to-late-Holocene societies in southeast Uruguay carried out practices that resulted, intentionally or unintentionally, in the elevation of earthen mounds in lowland environments, and the effects that those practices had in both the landscape and in human experiences. Her expedition and research goals earned her a 2019 Elizabeth Eddy Summer New Graduate Student Research Grant from the University of Florida’s Department of Archeology, which she used to travel to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, where she met with experts in her field and collaborated with international universities and local undergraduate students. 

Rocío is taking WINGS Flag #40 to Uruguay, where she will carry out sedimentological analysis on- and off-site to interpret and identify depositional environments to give a better context to human-environment long-term interactions and mound formation processes. Her archaeological approach to earth-mound emergence, which merges aspects of Historical Ecology and Materiality frameworks, as well as geoarchaeological methodologies, is innovative research that will not only open up new avenues of research into the earth-mound phenomenon in southeastern South America but also make a considerable contribution to anthropological and archaeological theory applicable in other similar contexts, related to the ways humans over time have shaped themselves and their world. Rocío was also recently awarded the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.