Newly Unearthed Ancient Amazonian Geoglyphs Change What We Knew About Civilization Here

Tucked away in the remote Amazonian rainforest away from major rivers, researchers have unearthed the remains of hundreds of fortified villages built before the arrival of Europeans. Built up of different communities speaking a variety of speeches, researchers believe the area was home to as many as 10 million people before Columbus arrived.

Understanding how these societies impacted their environment thousands of years ago could help inform how we handle policy and sustainability concerns today.

Archaeologists from the University of Exeter detected 81 earthworks called geoglyphs- human-made trenches with square, circular, or hexagonal shapes- along 1,800 kilometers( 1,120 miles ). They are believed to have been continuously occupied by “earth-building cultures living in fortified villages” from 1250 until 1500 AD, filling a gap in archaeological history. Experts don’t know what these structures were used for, but think they could have been for ceremonial rituals. Villages were often nearby, inside, or connected through these structures by a network of causeways.

Typical stance of ditched enclosings on plateau overlooking rivers. These ditces are outlined in black and mounds/ walls outlined in white.( Satellite image( c) 2018 Google, DigitalGlobe )

They’re part of a bigger network of an estimated 1,300 geoglyphs across 400,000 square kilometers( 154,400 square miles) in southern Amazonia, and challenge what we believe that we knew about ancient civilizations here. Researchers say these geoglyphs were probably made during seasonal droughts by clearing woodlands, which entails humans have been influencing their surrounding in bigger styles for much longer than previously believed. Because they’re tucked away from major rivers, it entails big communities were spread across various landscapes.

“There is a common misconception that the Amazon is an untouched scenery, home to scattered , nomadic communities. This is not the case, ” told Dr Jonas Gregorio de Souza, who was part of the study, in a statement. “We discover that some populations away from the major rivers are much larger than previously thought, and these people had an impact on the environment which we can still find today.”

The nature and scale of Pre-Columbian land use in the area continues to be a debated issue. A plenty is still to uncovered, considering merely about one-third of the sites have been determined and 95 percent of the interfluvial woodlands are still unexplored.

“Our research reveals we need to re-evaluate the history of the Amazon. It certainly wasn’t an area populated only near the banks of large rivers, and the people who lived there did change the landscape, ” said Professor Jose Iriarte, who was also part of the study. “The area we surveyed had a population of at the least tens of thousands.”

Archaeologists say understanding the role humen played in shaping these sceneries and understanding the forests’ resilience going to be able to modern society better understand how to induce informed policy decisions on sustainable futures.

“The Amazon is crucial to regulating the Earth’s climate and knowing more about its history will assist everyone make informed decisions about how it was necessary to cared for in the future, ” told de Souza.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

Distribution of earthworks in across sites in the Amazon. Courtesy of Nature Communications .

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