Archaeologists have discovered ancient settlements in parts of the Amazon rainforest that were previously thought to have never been called home by humans.
It has long been assumed that communities in the past preferred to live near the major rivers. However, with the discovery of hundreds of lost villages away from the water, it now appears that the assumption has been wrong all along.
Lost Villages Discovered In Amazon Rainforest
New research revealed that in supposedly uninhabited parts of the Amazon rainforest, ancient settlements once thrived. The villages were once home to up to a million people, with different communities that spoke various languages.
With the discovery that humans not only lived near the major rivers, a huge gap in the history of the Amazon has been filled in. The rainforest, which was previously believed to be largely untouched, was apparently heavily influenced by human activities such as farming and building.
In the paper on the discovery that was published on the Nature Communications, first author Jonas Gregorio de Souza and his colleagues from the University of Exeter explained that the sites of the ancient settlements were first found through satellite imagery. The areas, revealed due to deforestation, provided evidence of human activity through earthworks, including ditches for fortification, earth platforms for houses, and sunken roads.
De Souza and his team checked 24 of the locations that they identified and found archeological sites that contained ceramic fragments, polished stone axes, and fertile dark earth that proves long-term habitation by humans.
What Did The Ancient Amazon Settlements Look Like?
Today, one of the sites named Boa Vista looks little more than 11 mounds of earth that are surrounded by a ditch. However, De Souza imagines that the mounds were once houses that circled the village's central square, and outside the ditch, the people grew gardens and trees for fruits. The road that led to the enclosure may have held a ritual purpose, with the countless processions the reason why its surface had hardened. Perhaps, De Souza thought, the roads even linked several villages together, connecting the communities in the Amazon rainforest.
De Souza and his team, meanwhile, believes that there may be hundreds more of undiscovered ancient settlements in the Amazon rainforest with thriving communities before the Europeans arrived.
The existence of these ancient settlements and how they looked like, however, are not the only important things related to the discovery. With the Amazon rainforest at its tipping point, dwindling in size due to forms of degradations such as logging and mining, preserving the Amazon will need to take into account the influence of lost civilizations.