Archaeologists have discovered a group of lost cities in Amazon rainforest to Ecuador Which was home to at least 10,000 farmers about 2,000 years ago.
A series of dirt mounds and buried roads in Ecuador were first observed more than two decades ago by archaeologist Steven Rusten. But at the time, “I wasn't sure how it all fit together,” he said, one of the researchers who reported the discovery on Thursday. In the scientific journal Sciences.
Recently, mapping using laser sensor technology revealed that these sites are part of a dense network of settlements and connected roads, hidden in the forested hills of the Andes, that has existed for about 1,000 years. “It was a lost valley of cities,” said Rostin, who is leading the investigation at France's National Center for Scientific Research. “It's unbelievable.”
Researchers have discovered that the settlements were occupied by the Obano people between approximately 500 BC and 300 to 600 AD, a period roughly contemporary with the Roman Empire in Europe.
The residential and ceremonial buildings were built on more than 6,000 mounds of land surrounded by agricultural fields and drainage canals. The largest roads were 10 meters wide and extended 10 to 20 kilometers.
Although population size is difficult to estimate, the site was home to at least 10,000 people — and perhaps as many as 15,000 or 30,000 at its peak, said archaeologist Antoine Dorison, co-author of the study, from the same French city. institute. This is similar to the population of London in Roman times, which was then the largest city in Britain.
“This shows very dense occupation and a very complex society,” said University of Florida archaeologist Michael Heckenberger, who was not involved in the study. “For the region, it's really in a class of its own in terms of how early it is.”
Building roads and thousands of earthen mounds would require a sophisticated system of organized labor, said José Iriarte, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter. “The Incas and Mayans built with stone, but people in the Amazon generally didn't have stone available to build with — they built with clay. There's still a great deal of work to do,” said Iriarte, who was also not involved in the research.
The Amazon is often viewed as a “nature untouched only by small groups of people.” However, recent discoveries have shown just how complex the forest's past really is.
More recently, scientists have also found evidence of complex rainforest communities that predated European contact with other parts of the Amazon, including Bolivia and Brazil. “There has always been an amazing diversity of people and settlements in the Amazon, not just one way of living,” Rustin said. “We're just learning more about them.”/AP
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