Amazing Amazon discovery: ‘Uninhabited’ areas were once home to a million people



Amazon discovery: ‘Uninhabited’ areas once home to millions of

Experts have discovered a beautiful proof that parts of the Amazon-it was long thought that almost uninhabited were once home to the population of a million people.

Experts have discovered a beautiful proof that parts of the Amazon-it was long thought that almost uninhabited were once home to the population of a million people.

Archaeologists from the University of Exeter in the united kingdom have found the remains of hundreds of villages in the rainforest. Intriguingly, the sites are removed of the great rivers, to the long-held theory that ancient Amazon communities preferred to live in the vicinity of waterways.

The discovery fills in a big hole in the Amazon’s history, according to the researchers. “There is a general misconception that the Amazon is a pristine landscape, home to scattered, nomadic communities,” explained Dr. Jonas Gregorio de Souza, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University in a statement. “This is not the case. We have noticed that some populations from the vicinity of the large rivers, are much larger than previously thought, and these people had an impact on the environment that we still can today.”


The Souza is a member of the research team that found the remains of long-abandoned fortified villages and mysterious geoglyphs – man-made locks with unusual square, round or hexagonal shapes. University of Exeter researchers have spent many years studying the strange markings. While the specific purpose of the earthworks is unknown, they may have been used in ceremonial rituals, according to researchers.

An aerial view of one of the structures on the Jacó Sá site in the brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

(Credit: University of Exeter)

The discoveries were made in the state of Mato Grosso in western Brazil. Through the study of charcoal remains and pottery excavated, archaeologists found that a 695 square kilometers of the South of the Amazon basin was continuously occupied from 1250 to 1500 by the inhabitants of the close villages.

Researchers estimate that between 1,000 and 1,500 fortified villages, two-thirds of which have yet to be found.


The new study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, describes an estimated 1,300 geoglyphs in 154,441 square miles of the Southern Amazon basin. Some 81 geoglyphs are found in the area surveyed for the research, with the villages often found in the vicinity of even the inside of the geoglyphs. A network of causeways as soon as they are linked to the communities.

The population in the area surveyed was at least in the tens of thousands, and may have been as many as a million people, according to archaeologists.

Experts believe that the earthworks were most likely built during the seasonal periods of drought, causing forests to be cleared. The fertile soil was found in the drier areas, they explain, allowing farmers to grow crops and fruit trees such as brazil nuts.


“Our research shows that we need to revisit the history of the Amazon,” said University of Exeter Professor José Iriarte, who is also a member of the research team, in the statement. “It certainly was not an area populated only near the banks of the great rivers, and the people who lived there, did change the landscape.”

The beautiful Amazon discovery can also have modern-day implications. “The Amazon is critical for regulating the Earth’s climate, and to know more about the history will help everyone make informed decisions about how it should be cared for in the future,” said de Souza, in the statement.

Brazil is a Federal University of Pará in Belém, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso all took part in the survey, which was funded by the National Geographic and the European Research Council.


There are other fascinating examples of how modern archaeology is shedding new light on ancient cultures. In a separate project, archaeologists used remote measurement technology to reveal lost cities and thousands of ancient structures deep in the Guatemalan jungle, in which it is confirmed that the Mayan civilization was much larger than previously thought.

In Northern Iraq, researchers used spy satellite images and drones to help the site of an ancient, lost city. In South Africa, archaeologists used advanced laser technology to locate the site of a city that was occupied until about 200 years ago.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers


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