Pre-Columbian settlements have been found in the Amazon forests
Archaeologists discovered a well-developed system of cities in the Amazon forests of Ecuador. Previously, it was believed that people never lived here, but the settlements found are very developed and date back to pre-Columbian times.
This was reported by BBC and CNN. This is the discovery of scientists from France, Germany, Ecuador and Puerto Rico. The head of the study is Stephen Rosten, a representative of the National Center for Scientific Research in France.
“This is the oldest known settlement in the Amazon. We have a Eurocentric view of civilization, but this discovery shows that we have to change our idea of what culture and civilization are,” he said.
Rosten added that at the beginning of his work, he was discouraged from archaeological research in this area – it was believed that no ancient settlements had ever lived here.
The cities are found in the Upano Valley in Ecuador in the eastern foothills of the Andes. The settlements are between 3,000 and 1,500 years old, older than other pre-Columbian settlements found in the Amazon. Previously, barrows and large monuments were found here, but this building is much larger and more extensive compared to all the previous discoveries of scientists.
Archaeologists here have more than 6,000 earthen rectangular platforms arranged in a geometrical order. Scientists assume that these are the foundations of buildings – residential buildings and ceremonial structures. The platforms are connected by roads interspersed with agricultural landscapes and river drainages. Scientists also discovered dikes with ditches on both sides, which they believe helped to remove excess water in the region. Signs of an external threat were also detected – some ditches block the entrances to cities.
This type of urban planning can be compared to similar Maya urban systems recently discovered in Mexico and Guatemala. The inhabitants were probably mostly engaged in agriculture. People ate corn and sweet potatoes, and probably drank chicha, a type of sweet beer.
It is still not clear why the inhabitants who built these cities disappeared. It is difficult to estimate exactly how many people lived there at different times, but scientists noted that it was from 10 to 100 thousand inhabitants. The BBC noted that the area is located near a volcano, which defines good local soils, but volcanic activity could have caused the settlement to disappear.
The terrain in the forests of Ecuador is complicated by the fact that there are almost impassable thickets. The untouched Amazon forest is dense and difficult to access both for foot expeditions and for scanning technologies. Archaeologists used different methods: both ground excavations and LiDAR technology. Laser sensors were installed on a plane that was circling over the area. This method made it possible to discover the remains of the city under dense plants and trees.
We will remind that in July, the Ministry of Culture of Switzerland returned to Egypt a fragment of the 3,400-year-old statue of Ramses II, which was stolen at the end of the 20th century. This happened during a ceremony at the Egyptian embassy in Bern.
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