They discover a vast network of ancient cities in the Amazon rainforest

(CNN) — Archaeologists working deep in the Amazon rainforest have discovered an extensive network of cities dating back 2,500 years.

Pre-Hispanic settlements, highly structured, with wide roads and long, straight avenues, clusters of plazas and monumental platforms, were found in the Upano Valley, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, according to a study published Thursday. In science magazine.

The discovery of the oldest and most extensive urban network of built and excavated elements in the Amazon to date was the result of more than two decades of research in the region by a team from France, Germany, Ecuador and Puerto Rico.

The research began with field work before deploying a remote sensing method called LiDAR (Laser Object Detection and Measurement System), which uses laser light to detect structures beneath dense tree canopies.

The study’s lead author, archaeologist and research director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Stéphane Rosten, described the discovery as “incredible”.

advanced engineering

“The lidar gave us an overview of the area and we were able to appreciate quite a bit the size of the sites,” he told CNN on Friday. He said this showed him “the entire network” of dug roads. “Lidar was the icing on the cake.”

The first people to live there 3,000 years ago had small, scattered homes, Rosten said.
However, according to the study’s authors, between about 500 BC and 300 to 600 AD, the Kilmope and later Upano cultures began building mounds and placing their homes on earthen platforms. These platforms were arranged around a low, square field.

Lidar technology data revealed the existence of more than 6,000 platforms in the southern part of the 600 square kilometers studied.

According to the study, the platforms were mostly rectangular, although some were circular, and measured approximately 20 by 10 meters. They were usually built around a plaza in groups of three or six. The plaza also usually had a central platform.

The team also discovered monumental complexes with very large platforms that probably held civic or ceremonial functions.

At least 15 groups of complexes identified as settlements were discovered.

Some settlements were protected by ditches, while some larger compounds had road blocks. According to the researchers, this suggests that the settlements faced threats, whether external or resulting from tensions between groups.

Even the most isolated complexes were connected by an extensive network of roads and large straight side streets.

In the empty areas between the complexes, the team found land cultivation features such as drainage fields and terraces. According to the study, these elements were connected by a network of trails.

“That’s why I call them garden cities,” Rosten said, “It’s a whole revolution in our paradigm about the Amazon.”

“We have to think that all the native (people) of the forest were not semi-nomadic tribes who got lost in the forest in search of food. They are of a huge variety, diversity of cases and in some even (an) urban system There was (a) stratified society”, said.

The general organization of the cities suggests “the existence of advanced engineering” at the time, according to the study’s authors, who concluded that the garden urbanization of the Upano Valley “provides further evidence that the Amazon is not the ancient jungle that it was a Bar represented”.

Rosten said we should imagine the pre-Columbian Amazon “as an ant nest”, with everyone going about their business.

Similar sites throughout the Americas

According to landscape archaeologist Carlos Morales-Aguilar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the study, this newly discovered urban network is similar to other sites found in the tropical forests of Panama, Guatemala, Belize, Brazil, Matches quite well. And Mexico.

Morales-Aguilar called the study “pioneering” and told CNN that it not only provides “concrete evidence of early and advanced urban planning in the Amazon, but is also important in our understanding of the cultural and environmental heritage of indigenous societies in the region.” Contributes”.

In 2022, Morales-Aguilar was part of a team of researchers who used lidar technology to discover a vast site in northern Guatemala that contained hundreds of interconnected ancient Maya cities, towns, and villages, as well as a 177-kilometer network of Was. Stone structures that connected communities.

The researchers said the findings of this latest study reflect advanced agricultural and urban planning techniques observed in northern Guatemala and “offer new perspectives on the complexities of these primitive societies.”


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button