A recent discovery by archeologists has uncovered a cluster of lost cities in the Amazon rainforest that was home to at least 10,000 farmers around 2,000 years ago.
This incredible finding was first noticed over 20 years ago by archaeologist Stéphen Rostain, but it wasn’t until recent mapping by laser-sensor technology that the extent of these settlements was fully realized. The results of this discovery were published in the journal Science on Thursday.
The lost cities were part of a dense network of settlements and connecting roadways, tucked into the forested foothills of the Andes. This network lasted approximately 1,000 years, from around 500 B.C. to 300 to 600 A.D. – a period that coincides with the height of the Roman Empire in Europe. The settlements were occupied by the Upano people, who built residential and ceremonial buildings on more than 6,000 earthen mounds, surrounded by agricultural fields with drainage canals. The largest roads were 33 feet (10 meters) wide and stretched for 6 to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometers).
According to archaeologist Antoine Dorison, a co-author of the study from France’s National Center for Scientific Research, it is difficult to estimate the exact population of these settlements, but it is believed that there were at least 10,000 inhabitants and possibly as many as 15,000 or 30,000 at its peak. This is comparable to the estimated population of Roman-era London, which was Britain’s largest city at the time.
The discovery of this lost valley of cities highlights the complexity of societies in the Amazon rainforest. University of Florida archaeologist Michael Heckenberger, who was not involved in the study, stated that the region is in a class of its own in terms of how early it developed compared to other Amazon societies.
This is further evidenced by the intricate social organization and extensive labor required to build the roads and earthen mounds, which were made of mud due to the lack of available stones in the area.
The findings have challenged the common misconception of the Amazon being a pristine wilderness with only small groups of people living there. As University of Exeter archaeologist José Iriarte points out, discoveries like this show how much more complex the past of the Amazon really is. This is supported by other recent discoveries of intricate rainforest societies in Bolivia and Brazil, further demonstrating the diversity of cultures and settlements in the region.
The research was conducted by a team of international archaeologists, who utilized advanced technology and research methods to uncover the lost cities in the Amazon.
The success of this discovery is a testament to the importance of continued research and exploration in the region, as there is still much to be learned about the ancient civilizations that once inhabited it.
This recent discovery sheds light on the extensive history of the Amazon and the diverse societies that have called it home. It also raises questions about the environmental impact of these settlements and what lessons can be learned from the past. As Rostain puts it, “We’re just learning more about them [the Amazonian societies]”. The Amazon rainforest continues to reveal its secrets, providing valuable insights into the history of our planet and the complex societies that have inhabited it.