GENERICO.ruScienceValley of Lost Cities Found in Forests: Flourished 2,000 Years Ago

Valley of Lost Cities Found in Forests: Flourished 2,000 Years Ago

“This is truly a unique object”

The Valley of the Lost Cities, which flourished 2,000 years ago, was found in the Amazon. Laser sensor technology has revealed a network of earthen mounds and paved roads in the Ecuadorian rainforest.

Archaeologists have discovered a cluster of lost cities in the Amazon rainforest that were home to at least 10,000 peasants about 2,000 years ago, reports the Associated Press.

A series of earthen mounds and buried roads in Ecuador has been seen for the first time even more two decades ago by archaeologist Stephen Rosten. But at the time, “I wasn't sure how it all fit together,” said Rosten, one of the researchers who reported the finding in the journal Science on Thursday.

The dense vegetation cover of the Bolivian rainforest has made it difficult for archaeologists to locate these sites.

Recent mapping using laser sensor technology has shown that these sites were part of a dense network of settlements and connecting roads hidden in the forested foothills of the Andes that existed about 1,000 years ago.

“It was a lost valley of cities,” says Rostaing, who directs research at the French National Center for Scientific Research. “This is incredible.”

Researchers have discovered that the settlements were inhabited by the Upano people sometime between 500 BC. and 300-600 AD. – a period roughly coinciding with the Roman Empire in Europe.

Residential and ceremonial buildings built on more than 6,000 earthen mounds were surrounded by agricultural fields with drainage channels. The largest roads were 10 meters wide and stretched for 10-20 km.

Although it is difficult to estimate the population, the site was home to at least 10,000 people – and perhaps as many as 15,000 or 30,000 at its peak, says archaeologist Antoine Dorison, co-author of the study at the same French institute. This is comparable to the estimated population of Roman-era London, then Britain's largest city.

“This suggests a very dense occupation and an extremely complex society,” said University of Florida archaeologist Michael Heckenberger, who was not involved in the study. “It's really unique for the region in terms of how early it is.”

José Iriarte, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, said building the roads and thousands of earthen mounds would have required a complex system of organized labor.

“The Incas and Mayans built with stone, but people in the Amazon usually didn't have stone to build with – they built with clay. It still requires a huge amount of work,” said Iriarte, who was not involved in the study.

The Amazon is often thought of as “an untouched wilderness inhabited only by small groups of people.” But recent discoveries have shown us “how much more complex the past really is,” the archaeologist said.

Scientists have also recently discovered evidence of complex communities in tropical forests that existed before European contact in other parts of the Amazon, including Bolivia and Brazil .

“The Amazon has always had an incredible diversity of people and settlements, not just one way of life,” notes Rosten. “We're just learning more about them.”

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