Ancient structures from pre-Columbian times discovered in the Amazon forests (12 photos)

1 November 2023

Many areas of the Amazon and the people who once inhabited them remain a mystery to us. Fortunately, new technologies have allowed archaeologists to obtain additional information about ancient settlements in these places.

Using the LIDAR (light detection and ranging) remote sensing technique, researchers Vinicius Peripato and Luis Aragao, with the help of photographer Diego Gurgel, discovered real treasures. They were able to find more than 20 previously undocumented Indigenous earthworks. And, according to their forecasts, another 10,000 to 24,000 similar objects remain to be discovered.

“Indigenous peoples are known to have lived in the Amazon for more than 12,000 years, but the extent of their development of the Amazon forest remains unclear,” researchers from Brazil's National Institute of Space Research wrote in a paper published in the journal Science. In addition, domesticated tree species were discovered during the study, which indicates the active development of forestry.

In the pre-Columbian era, in the Amazon, occupying 2.59 million square meters. km, there were numerous and developed societies.

“These ancient indigenous societies were highly skilled in earthworks, river modification, soil enrichment, and farming and herding, which allowed them to create domesticated landscapes that were more habitable,” the scientists explain. — Indigenous peoples skillfully created a variety of earthen structures (ring ditches, geoglyphs, ponds and wells), mainly in the period from 1500 to 500 BC. BC, and these structures performed social, ritual and defensive functions.”

Thanks to large-scale aerial photographs taken by Diego Gurgel, massive geometric shapes have been discovered among the greenery of the forest. For maximum contrast, the pictures were taken in bright late evening light. Huge squares and circles, known as geoglyphs, dot the landscape.

This footage not only allows us to learn more about the ancient peoples who inhabited the Amazon, but also helps those who live there today and face unique challenges.

“Today, indigenous peoples are fighting for recognition of their right to the land on which their ancestors originally lived, as well as for the protection of their territories, languages, cultures and heritage,” the scientists say. “Because they know these areas better than anyone else, their opinions are key to protecting the Amazon.”

Researchers Vinicius Peripato and Luis Aragão used LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and aerial imagery from Diego Gurgel to discover a treasure in the Amazon rainforest

They were able to discover more than 20 previously undocumented indigenous earthworks

According to experts, there are currently from 10,000 to 24,000 ancient structures hidden from our eyes in the Amazon basin

“Indigenous peoples are known to have occupied the Amazon basin for more than 12,000 years, but the extent of their development of the Amazon forest remains unclear.”

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