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Amazonian find stuns researchers
The Seattle Times ^ | 9-20-03 | By Thomas H. Maugh II

Posted on 09/20/2003 6:15:45 PM PDT by vannrox

Amazonian find stuns researchers



Deep in the Amazon forest of Brazil, archaeologists have found a network of 1,000-year-old towns and villages that refutes two long-held notions: that the pre-Columbian tropical rain forest was a pristine environment that had not been altered by humans, and that the rain forest could not support a complex, sophisticated society.

A 15-mile-square region at the headwaters of the Xingu River contains at least 19 villages that are sited at regular intervals and share the same circular design. The villages are connected by a system of broad, parallel highways, Florida researchers reported in yesterday's issue of Science.

The Xinguano people who occupied the area not only built the complex towns but also dramatically altered the forest to meet their needs, clearing large areas to plant orchards and cassava while preserving other areas as a source of wood, medicine and animals.

(Excerpt) Read more at seattletimes.nwsource.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: agriculture; amazon; animalhusbandry; annaroosevelt; archaeologist; archaeology; brazil; dietandcuisine; environment; forest; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; huntergatherers; preclovis; pristine; rainforest; river; sahara; slashandburn; society; sophisticated; terrapreta; xingu; xinguano
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This is an excerpt.
1 posted on 09/20/2003 6:15:46 PM PDT by vannrox
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To: vannrox
But wait...I'm confused...how could a pristine environment have been despoiled more than 800 years before the birth of the Republican party? </sarcasm off>
2 posted on 09/20/2003 6:17:35 PM PDT by Behind Liberal Lines
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To: vannrox
Very interesting. This just proves once again that there is nothing new under the sun.


3 posted on 09/20/2003 6:17:47 PM PDT by rdb3 (Which is more powerful: The story or the warrior?)
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To: vannrox
Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered
Researchers Find Evidence of Sophisticated, Pre-Columbia Civilization in Amazon River Basin

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON Sept. 18 ?

The Amazon River basin was not all a pristine, untouched wilderness before Columbus came to the Americas, as was once believed. Researchers have uncovered clusters of extensive settlements linked by wide roads with other communities and surrounded by agricultural developments.

The researchers, including some descendants of pre-Columbian tribes that lived along the Amazon, have found evidence of densely settled, well-organized communities with roads, moats and bridges in the Upper Xingu part of the vast tropical region.

Michael J. Heckenberger, first author of the study appearing this week in the journal Science, said that the ancestors of the Kuikuro people in the Amazon basin had a "complex and sophisticated" civilization with a population of many thousands during the period before 1492.

"These people were not the small mobile bands or simple dispersed populations" that some earlier studies had suggested, he said.

Instead, the people demonstrated sophisticated levels of engineering, planning, cooperation and architecture in carving out of the tropical rain forest a system of interconnected villages and towns making up a widespread culture based on farming.

Heckenberger said the society that lived in the Amazon before Columbus were overlooked by experts because they did not build the massive cities and pyramids and other structures common to the Mayans, Aztecs and other pre-Columbian societies in South America.

Instead, they built towns, villages and smaller hamlets all laced together by precisely designed roads, some more than 50 yards across, that went in straight lines from one point to another.

"They were not organized in cities," Heckenberger said. "There was a different pattern of small settlements, but they were all tightly integrated.

He said the population in one village and town complex was 2,500 to 5,000 people, but that could be just one of many complexes in the Amazon region.

"All the roads were positioned according to the same angles and they formed a grid throughout the region," he said. Only a small part of these roads has been uncovered and it is uncertain how far the roads extend, but the area studied by his group is a grid 15 miles by 15 miles, he said.

Heckenberger said the people did not build with stone, as did the Mayas, but made tools and other equipment of wood and bone. Such materials quickly deteriorate in the tropical forest, unlike more durable stone structures. Building stones were not readily available along the Amazon, he said.

He said the Amazon people moved huge amounts of dirt to build roads and plazas. At one place, there is evidence that they even built a bridge spanning a major river. The people also altered the natural forest, planting and maintaining orchards and agricultural fields and the effects of this stewardship can still be seen today, Heckenberger said.

Diseases such as smallpox and measles, brought to the new world by European explorers, are thought to have wiped out most of the population along the Amazon, he said. By the time scientists began studying the indigenous people, the population was sparse and far flung. As a result, some researchers assumed that that was the way it was prior to Columbus.

The new studies, Heckenberger said, show that the Amazon basin once was the center of a stable, well-coordinated and sophisticated society.
4 posted on 09/20/2003 6:18:40 PM PDT by vannrox (The Preamble to the Bill of Rights - without it, our Bill of Rights is meaningless!)
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To: drstevej; P-Marlowe
Wonder if the "weathermen" will be all over this?
5 posted on 09/20/2003 6:26:47 PM PDT by xzins (And now I will show you the most excellent way!)
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To: Carry_Okie
He said the Amazon people moved huge amounts of dirt to build roads and plazas. At one place, there is evidence that they even built a bridge spanning a major river. The people also altered the natural forest, planting and maintaining orchards and agricultural fields and the effects of this stewardship can still be seen today, Heckenberger said.

How about that...prehistoric amazon engineers!

6 posted on 09/20/2003 6:27:20 PM PDT by forester (Reduce paperwork -- put foresters back in the forest!)
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To: vannrox
Pre-colombian? Wide roads?
Expect an influx of LDS folks trying to buy up all the surrounding real estate. Not to mention buying up the original research to salt away in the temple vaults.
7 posted on 09/20/2003 6:30:24 PM PDT by EBITDA ("Open war is upon you, whether would risk it or not." (Aragorn))
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To: vannrox
So this proves nature can recover.
8 posted on 09/20/2003 6:41:17 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: rdb3; Behind Liberal Lines
This just in: Earth supports life. Film at 11.
9 posted on 09/20/2003 6:46:41 PM PDT by visualops (The only problem with the easy way out is the enemy has already mined it.)
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To: forester
Shocks the hell out of me.
10 posted on 09/20/2003 7:03:27 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (California! See how low WE can go!)
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To: vannrox
SPOTREP
11 posted on 09/20/2003 7:06:03 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: EBITDA
Note this is about 1000 years old. That's 700 years after the fall of Rome, and well into recorded history in Europe, and yet this civilization was "lost" to us.

The pyramids were built 2000 years before the Roman Empire. How many complex civilizations preceded the Egyptians?

By the way, the Egyptians "lost" the Sphinx for a while and had to dig it out of the sand around 1400 B.C.
12 posted on 09/20/2003 7:10:10 PM PDT by eno_ (Freedom Lite - it's almost worth defending)
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To: vannrox
I'm fascinated and concerned all at once. The Seattle Editors must be sleeping at the wheel to let this non-conforming bit of information.
13 posted on 09/20/2003 7:10:53 PM PDT by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig ("I've got a feeling you've got a heart like mine. Let's stomp some rat ba!!$, you can let it shine.")
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To: blam
.
14 posted on 09/20/2003 7:11:25 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (California! See how low WE can go!)
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To: vannrox
Hmmm, looks familiar: Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered.
15 posted on 09/20/2003 7:14:31 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: aruanan; Carry_Okie
"Hmmm, looks familiar: Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered."

Yup, sure does. Have you noticed how these guys (authors/writers) are completely unaware of the discoveries in the article below?

Rainforest Researchers Hit Paydirt (Farming In South America 11K Years Ago)

" 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."

16 posted on 09/20/2003 7:32:37 PM PDT by blam
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To: Carry_Okie
"Shocks the hell out of me."

1491, one of my favorite artricles.

17 posted on 09/20/2003 7:34:35 PM PDT by blam
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To: eno_
"By the way, the Egyptians "lost" the Sphinx for a while and had to dig it out of the sand around 1400 B.C."

The Egyptians didn't lose the Sphinx. They may have discovered it around 1400BC but someone else originally built it about 9,000 years ago acording to Dr Robert Schoch, geologist/geophysist

18 posted on 09/20/2003 7:39:24 PM PDT by blam
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To: vannrox
bump for later reading
19 posted on 09/20/2003 7:42:10 PM PDT by I'm ALL Right! (He is no fool who would give what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose. - Jim Elliot)
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To: vannrox
Maybe they should read the accounts of the first spainiards who floated down from Peru to the mouth of the amazon looking for El Dorado? They claim the amazon nasin teemed with cities, towns and farms. Why didn't they read them? Sounds like a bunch of ignoramuses.
20 posted on 09/20/2003 7:46:07 PM PDT by Eternal_Bear
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