Amazon Rainforest


Lapa do Santo

10000 BCE - 7000 BCE

"Horny Little Man," a petroglyph depicting a stick figure with an oversized phallus, is carved in Lapa do Santo, a cave in central-eastern Brazil and is the oldest reliably dated rock art in the Americas.

Monte Alegre

9250 BCE - 8550 BCE

Monte Alegre culture rock paintings created at Caverna da Pedra Pintada become the oldest known paintings in South America.


9000 BCE

Dates of an adult man and child dying in Serranopolis in central Brazil. These human remains were excavated by Altair Sales Barbosa of the Catholic University of Goias. They were accompanied by necklaces of human teeth and mother of pearl.

Caverna da Pedra Pintada

5630 BCE

Ceramics left at Caverna da Pedra Pintada, Brazil are the earliest known ceramics in the Americas



Island of Marajó flourishes as an Amazonian ceramic center

Treaty of Tordesillas


Europeans create the Treaty of Tordesillas divides Spanish and Portuguese claims to new territories. South America falls almost entirely to Spain. The line runs N-S some 100 km E of Belém, Brazil.

Orinoco River


Christopher Columbus enters the Orinoco River estuary in present day Venezuela



Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral, en route to the Orient, discovers Brazil, landing in Bahia.

Amazon estuary


Vicente Yáñez Pinzón sails into the Amazon estuary.


1541 - 1542

First descent of the Amazon by Francisco de Orellana (1501–1550) from Quito, Ecuador, via the Rio Napo to the Atlantic Ocean. He fights Indian women he calls "Amazons." The name sticks to the river. Expedition chronicled by friar Gaspar de Carvajal.

Lope de Aguirre

1560 - 1561

Second descent of the Amazon, this time by the conquistador Lope de Aguirre.


1570 - 1600

Jesuit missions are widely established in the Amazon. Indians relocated and "protected."



Sir Walter Raleigh leads expedition to colonize the Orinoco River for the English. In 1616, he settles for Trinidad.



Founding of Santa Maria do Grão Pará de Belém, Brazil, to mark Portuguese presence. The French, English, and even Irish try to colonize the region.

Pedro Teixeira

1637 - 1639

Pedro Teixeira leads the first European expedition up the Amazon from Belém to Quito, arriving unexpected.

Rio Negro


Francisco Xavier de Moraes, ascending the Rio Negro, discovers the Casiquiare canal to the Orinoco.

Rubber sample


Charles Marie de La Condamine sends first rubber sample to Europe from his Amazon expedition.

Treaty of Madrid


Treaty of Madrid fixes boundaries between the Spanish and Portuguese empires in South America. Portuguese possession of areas west of the Tordesillas line is recognized, based on occupation.

Marquis of Pombal


Jesuits are expelled from Brazil by the Marquis of Pombal. Indians left without protection.

Alexander von Humboldt


Alexander von Humboldt explores the Orinoco and proves the link via the Casiquiare canal to the Rio Negro. Humboldt refused permission to enter Brazil.

Simon Bolivar

1808 - 1825

Spanish rule in South America ends with revolutions led by Simón Bolívar of Venezuela, San Martín of Argentina, and O'Higgins of Chile. In 1808 the Portuguese royal family arrives in Brazil escaping the Napoleon's invasion of Portugal.

Spix and Martius

1818 - 1820

Spix and Martius on expedition in the Amazon.

Dom Pedro


Brazil proclaims its independence under Dom Pedro I of Brazil.

Charles Macintosh


Charles Macintosh invents waterproof rubber cape. (Amazon Indians, users of rubber waterproof bags for centuries, get no credit.)


1826 - 1828

Baron von Langsdorff on expedition from Cuiabá to Belém, arriving with sanity impaired.

Dorothy Stang


On February 12, 2005, American missionary Dorothy Stang (73 years of age) is gunned down in Anapu, Pará.



Worst drought in 50 years hits the western Amazon Basin. Lakes and streams dry and massive fish mortality takes place. Turtle beaches are sacked by hungry residents.



The Brazilian government announces the Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento to construct dams on the Madeira, Xingú, and Tapajós rivers, to go ahead with the polemical highway BR-319, and to expand petroleum and natural gas extraction in the Solimões basin.



Second Amazon Indian congress is held at Altamira, Brazil, to again protest the newly proposed Belo Monte dams on the Xingú River.