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Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered
Science--AP ^ | Thu Sep 18, 7:26 PM ET | PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer

Posted on 09/18/2003 7:38:01 PM PDT by aruanan

Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered
Thu Sep 18, 7:26 PM ET
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By PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON - 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.

TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: agriculture; americas; ancientworld; animalhusbandry; archaeology; archeology; australia; bering; clovis; dietandcuisine; dna; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; huntergatherers; mtdna; multiregionalism; paleontology; preclovis; precolumbian; primates; pristinerainforest; replacement; whitemanscurse
The Amazon River basin was not all a pristine, untouched wilderness before Columbus came to the Americas, as was once believed.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
1 posted on 09/18/2003 7:38:03 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: blam
Evil white European predation on pristine primeval natural environment BUMP
2 posted on 09/18/2003 7:39:32 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: aruanan

Hillary finds her extortion records.

3 posted on 09/18/2003 7:57:36 PM PDT by First_Salute
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To: aruanan
Yup. One archaeologist, while flying over these human 'manipulated' areas, said that it would have taken 50 million people to do the things he was viewing.

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

4 posted on 09/18/2003 7:57:42 PM PDT by blam
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To: aruanan
Misleading headline. I thought this was going to be about the tribe of female warriors of ancient central Asia.
5 posted on 09/18/2003 8:22:54 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Verginius Rufus
And I thought this was going to be about where dumped all those copies of Hilary's book they couldn't sell?
6 posted on 09/18/2003 8:53:28 PM PDT by Siegfried (I ain't gonna work on Bill Gates' farm no more!)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 2Jedismom; 3AngelaD; ...
Another old topic which escaped listing until now.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

7 posted on 10/31/2004 6:46:19 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: First_Salute

Turned up the day after the statue of limitations expired with her fingerprints on it.

8 posted on 10/31/2004 8:27:09 PM PST by BenLurkin (We have low inflation and and low unemployment.)
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· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach

· Google · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology magazine · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
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9 posted on 08/26/2008 8:16:35 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( hasn't been updated since Friday, May 30, 2008)
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