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Rainforest Researchers Hit Paydirt (Farming 11K Years Ago in South America)
University Of Vermont ^ | 8-29-2002 | Lynda Majarian

Posted on 08/30/2002 10:11:59 AM PDT by blam

Contact: Lynda Majarian
lynda.majarian@uvm.edu
802-656-1107
University of Vermont

Rainforest researchers hit pay dirt

It shouldn't be there, but it is. Deep in the central Amazonian rainforest lies a rich, black soil known locally as terra preta do Indio (Indian dark earth) that farmers have worked for years with minimal fertilization. A Brazilian-American archeological team believed terra preta, which may cover 10 percent of Amazonia, was the product of intense habitation by Amerindian populations who flourished in the area for two millennia, but they recently unearthed evidence that societies lived and farmed in the area up to 11,000 years ago.

As reported in the August 9 issue of the journal Science, such long-lasting fertility is an anomaly in the tropics, where punishing conditions make the land highly acidic, low in organic matter and essential nutrients, and nearly incapable of sustaining life.

In 1994, James Petersen, associate professor and chair of anthropology at the University of Vermont, and Michael Heckenberger, now at the University of Florida, investigated their first terra preta deposit on a riverbank near Açutuba. The three-kilometer site was thick with broken pieces of ceramic, relics of a large, ancient society. To date, they and fellow researchers have excavated four sites and explored 30 others near the junction of the Amazon and Rio Negro.

What researchers find most remarkable is that instead of destroying the soil, the indigenous inhabitants improved it - something ecologists don't know how to do today. Although the project is in its early stages, modern scientists hope to learn the principles behind terra preta. The ability to reproduce the super-fertile soil could have broad impact, making it possible to sustain intensive agriculture in the Amazon and other hot regions.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: agriculture; amazon; amazonia; animalhusbandry; annaroosevelt; archaeology; brazil; dietandcuisine; dirt; domestication; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; history; huntergatherers; pay; preclovis; rainforest; researchers; sahara; slashandburn; terrapreta
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I thought farming was 'invented' in the Middle East 6-8,000 years ago. What's up with this? (The farmers of Atlantis?)
1 posted on 08/30/2002 10:11:59 AM PDT by blam
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To: RightWhale; Ernest_at_the_Beach; #3Fan; d4now; ruoflaw; JudyB1938; Carry_Okie; ValerieUSA; ...
FYI.
2 posted on 08/30/2002 10:14:36 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam; Grampa Dave; snopercod; SierraWasp
Replicating this technology would be a huge blow to Sustainable Development.

It must be banned.

Dialing my NGO lawyer in Johannesburg now...
3 posted on 08/30/2002 10:18:08 AM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: blam
Good Post! If you put this with the undersea finds near Cuba, India, and the Black sea, there is a lot we just do not know yet about the early story of civilization. I suspect there is more to be found under the jungle in South America and Asia.
4 posted on 08/30/2002 10:28:24 AM PDT by JimSEA
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To: blam
Right. Civilization was discovered straight out of the blue in Ur with nothing coming before. Hammaurabi invented law with no precedent. Nobody thought of agriculture until beer and bread were found to be good things.

What did they grow down there in the present rainforest wasteland? Habaneros, corn, tobacco, and potatoes would be my guess, none of which were avalaible in Asia or Europe or Africa until the time of Phoenicians.

5 posted on 08/30/2002 10:29:02 AM PDT by RightWhale
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To: blam
Exactly. If true, this is revolutionary. More likely, it isn't.
6 posted on 08/30/2002 10:36:30 AM PDT by liberallarry
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To: Carry_Okie; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Grampa Dave
I know this is "flipant," but "Pay Dirt" is what Mrs. Wasp buys at the local nursery that is loaded with chicken excrement and bat guano(sp?). I think they collect it down in Sacramento at the Crapitol!!! (how's that for a dig?)
7 posted on 08/30/2002 11:31:34 AM PDT by SierraWasp
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To: blam
Time is contemporaneous with Kennewick Man (11,300 years ago). More evidence that Europeans were the first to settle the Americas (that frantic shoveling noise you hear is "Native Americans" trying to rebury the evidence before it can be examined)...


8 posted on 08/30/2002 11:36:24 AM PDT by pabianice
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To: pabianice
"Time is contemporaneous with Kennewick Man (11,300 years ago). "

Kennewick Man died 9,300 years ago in his mid 40's. There are no Native American/American Indian (as we know them today) skeletons ever found that are older than 6,000 years old.

9 posted on 08/30/2002 11:56:01 AM PDT by blam
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To: liberallarry
Exactly. If true, this is revolutionary. More likely, it isn't.

I wouldn't be so flippant sir. There is a growing body of concurrent evidence on this one. More important, it is evidence derived from totally unrelated disciplines: soil science, traditional archaeology, genetic anthropology, lexicography, botany, epidemiology...

With all these distinct disciplines pointing in the same direction, why is the resistance so shrill? (There is a reason.)

10 posted on 08/30/2002 11:56:29 AM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: pabianice; seventhson

Luzia, died at the age of 24, 11,500 years ago in Brazil. (she is the oldest dated skeleton ever found in the Americas)

Luzia, is closer in time and geography to the area mentioned in this article than any other to date. (There is a skeleton found on an island off the coast of California that some believe will be older than Luzia, but not yet.)

The Monte Verde site, 35,000-50,000yo will (probably) cause havoc (eventually) with all that we know about this area.

11 posted on 08/30/2002 12:09:32 PM PDT by blam
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To: SierraWasp
LOL!!
12 posted on 08/30/2002 12:13:49 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: blam
Monte Verde

Where is that ?

13 posted on 08/30/2002 12:16:25 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: SierraWasp
Thy pungent scents off humus hath soiled this forum again.
14 posted on 08/30/2002 12:17:07 PM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: *Gods, Graves, Glyphs
Gods, Graves, Glyphs

Trying again!

To find all articles tagged or indexed using 'Gods, Graves, Glyphs'

Click here: 'Gods, Graves, Glyphs'

15 posted on 08/30/2002 12:20:07 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: blam
See post #15!
16 posted on 08/30/2002 12:21:07 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
"Where is that ?"

Chile.

Rediscovering America

17 posted on 08/30/2002 12:26:51 PM PDT by blam
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To: RightWhale
What researchers find most remarkable is that instead of destroying the soil, the indigenous inhabitants improved it - something ecologists don't know how to do today

But modern farmers, soils scientists, and ag engineers do. It's just that not all farmers practice the proper methods as they sometimes don't pay as much in the short term.

What did they grow down there in the present rainforest wasteland? Habaneros, corn, tobacco, and potatoes would be my guess, none of which were avalaible in Asia or Europe or Africa until the time of Phoenicians.

Have to have some beans or other crop that hosts nitrogen fixing bacteria, maybe peanuts? I'm not real up on crop rotation practices, but they often involve at least 3 different crops and a fallow period. My father in law's farm does corn, soy beans, alfalfa and the fallow year. Course it helps that his father was the first in the county to do contour plowing and one of the first, if not the first, to put in terraces. His land didn't blow away in the '30s like so many others' did. He, my wife's grandpa, learned all that at Ag College, where he got a 4 year degree in something like 1918. He was a real rarity in those days, a farmer with a 4 year college degree. He taught at an Ag school, 1 and 2 year programs plus short courses, before returning to take over the farm from his father.

18 posted on 08/30/2002 12:42:51 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: blam
Just as farming was practiced briefly in Egypt some 11000 years ago to feed those building the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid, just so it was practiced briefly by the Atlantean exiles when they reached the continents of refuge.

It then seems to have died out until its reintroduction in Sumer some 6000 yrs BP.

Edgar Cayce bats 1000 again.

19 posted on 08/30/2002 12:48:07 PM PDT by crystalk
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To: El Gato
Seeing as how the Univ of Alaska here was originally the School of Mines and Agriculture, apparently others also think some education is good for farmers, and for miners, too.
20 posted on 08/30/2002 12:48:19 PM PDT by RightWhale
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