Newly discovered traces of ancient roads, bridges and plazas in Brazil's tropical forest may help dispel the once-popular impression of an 'untouched' Amazon before the Europeans' arrival. In southern Brazil, archeologists have found the remains of a NETWORK or urban communities that apparently hosted a population many thousands strong. Reporting their findings in the journal SCIENCE, published by AAAS, the science society, the researchers say the people who dwelled there dramatically changed their local landscape.' /// Michael Heckenberger of the University of Florida and his colleagues were 'baffled' at the discovery. 'There was this cherished image that the Amazon was pure nature...archeologists are compelled to revise their views of ancient Brazil. Image Credit: Michael Heckenberger & Jim Bailey – Science (September 18, 2003)
Urban Sprawl Grid Discovered In Xingu Amazonia
Deep in the heart of the Amazon forest, evidence of an extensive network roads, plazas, and infrastructure that suggests vast human activity has been discovered in a area once thought to be only virgin rain forest.
Image Credit: BBC NEWS
Due to the overgrowth of the forest, it is estimated that the peoples who designed and populated the region may have been wiped out with the introduction of European born diseases introduced to Brazil when Explorers from Europe fist set foot in the Americas.
The research that has been conducted over the course of the past decade, was aided with the use of satellite imagery and GPS to discover the extent of the urban sprawl associated with the network of past human development and activity.
The researchers found evidence of 28 prehistoric residential sites. Initial colonization began about 1,500 years ago, and the villages they studied were dated to between 750 and 450 years ago. The local population declined sharply after Europeans arrived. /// Villages were distinguished by surrounding ditches, with berms on the inside made from material dug from the ditch and topped with a wooden palisade wall, Heckenberger reported. Image Credit: BBC NEWS
This excerpted end edited from the BBC -
'Lost towns' discovered in Amazon
A remote area of the Amazon river basin was once home to densely populated towns, Science journal reports.
Story from BBC NEWS - Published: 2008/08/28 21:37:07 GMT
The Upper Xingu, in west Brazil, was once thought to be virgin forest, but in fact shows traces of extensive human activity.
Researchers found evidence of a grid-like pattern of settlements connected by road networks and arranged around large central plazas.
Roads and canals connected walled cities and villages. The communities were laid out around central plazas. Nearby, smaller settlements focused on agriculture and fish farming. Pictured is evidence of dams used to funnel fish into holding ponds. Image Credit: BBC NEWS
There are signs of [field] farming, wetland management, and possibly fish farms.
The ancient urban communities date back to before the first Europeans set foot in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon in the 15th Century.
Professor Mike Heckenberger, from the University of Florida, in Gainesville, said: "These are not cities, but this is urbanism, built around towns."
The tell-tale traces included "dark earth" that indicated past human waste dumps or farming, and concentrations of pottery shards and earthworks.
The communities consisted of clusters of 60-hectare (150-acre) towns and smaller villages spread out over the rainforest.
Like medieval European and ancient Greek towns, those forming the Amazonian urban landscape were surrounded by large walls. These were composed of earthworks, the remains of which have survived.
Each community had an identical road, always pointing north-east to south-west, which are connected to a central plaza.
The roads were always oriented this way in keeping with the mid-year summer solstice.
Evidence was found of dams and artificial ponds - thought to have been used for fish farming - as well as open areas and large compost heaps.
The more we learn about this Oblate Spheroid we populate, the more we become amazed at the depth assumption plays in our approach to understanding, and the more, through discovery, we begin to understand the depth of what we do not know here in the 21st Century.