A cluster of lost cities in the Amazon Rainforest that was once home to at least 10,000 farmers roughly 2,000 years ago, has just been uncovered by archaeologists. These discoveries were just published Thursday in the journal Science, which describes the archaeologist’s research through mapping the intricate network of settlements, possibly being the first example of urbanism ever recorded in the Amazon.
Stéphen Rostain the first author of the study and the director of France’s National Center for Scientific Research commented stating, “It was a lost valley of cities,” and “It’s incredible.” At least 15 settlements connected through a complex network of roads that stretched from 10 to 20 kilometers were identified, with the largest roads being ten meters at most in width.
The settlements were previously occupied by the Upano people, from 500BC to AD300 to 600, the same era roughly as when the Roman empire still existed. The site is estimated to be home to a minimum of 10,000 inhabitants, with even possibly 15,000 to 30,000 at the max, explained Atoine Dorison, an archaeologist and expert on the topic.
More than 6,000 platform mounds were mapped, with each mound supporting evidence of possible plaza’s ceremonial buildings, etc. constructed along the road system, while bordered by terraced fields and drainage ditches.
“This shows a very dense occupation and an extremely complicated society,” said Michael Heckenberger, the University of Florida archaeologist. “For the region, it’s really in a class of its own in terms of how early it is.”
A University of Exeter archaeologist, José Iriarte has also stated it would have required an immense and organized amount of labor would have been needed to construct the roads and earthen mounds discovered. “The Incas and Mayans built with stone, but people in Amazonia didn’t usually have stone available to build – they built with mud. It’s still an immense amount of labor.”
What’s more, scientists have also uncovered evidence of other ancient complex rainforest societies besides the Amazon, such as in Bolivia and Brazil. “There’s always been an incredible diversity of people and settlements in the Amazon, not only one way to live,” explained Rostain. “We’re just learning more about them.”
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