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Massive sprawling "city" discovered in Amazon Basin

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  • Massive sprawling "city" discovered in Amazon Basin

    Researchers have used a laser-based remote sensing method known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to uncover what they describe as a "mindblowing" network of pre-Columbian lost urban centers in the Llanos de Mojos savanna forest in Bolivia, which is in the southwest corner of the Amazon Basin. While stories of cities deep in the Amazon, including possibly the fabled city of El Dorado, have been told for centuries, this discovery marks the first clear evidence that there were urban societies in this part of the Amazon Basin.

    Moreover, the discovery suggests that the Amazon’s rainforest was actually relatively heavily populated, and in places quite urbanized, centuries before the recorded history of the region began.

    The researchers believe that the Casarabe Culture (500-1400 C.E.) was responsible for these lost cities, which feature 16' tall terraces covering roughly 54 acres, on which civic/ceremonial U-shaped platform mounds as well as a number of conical earthen pyramids all about 70' tall. Jose Iriarte, an archeologist and archaeobotanist at the University of Exeter, said that these cities and towns were interconnected by 600 miles of canals and raised causeways. Nothing else even remotely like this has been found in the Amazon before.

    The Casarabe decided that rather than constructing huge densely packed cities, to instead spread out in a network of smaller settlements which incorporated sufficient open space for farming. Apparently, the inhabitants transformed an area roughly the size of England into productive agricultural and aquacultural landscapes.


    Source: ‘Mind blowing’ ancient settlements uncovered in the Amazon


    The urban centres are the first to be discovered in the region, challenging archaeological dogma.


    Mysterious mounds in the southwest corner of the Amazon Basin were once the site of ancient urban settlements, scientists have discovered. Using a remote-sensing technology to map the terrain from the air, they found that, starting about 1,500 years ago, ancient Amazonians built and lived in densely populated centres, featuring 22-metre-tall earthen pyramids, that were encircled by kilometres of elevated roadways.

    The complexity of these settlements is “mind blowing”, says team member Heiko Prümers, an archaeologist at the German Archaeological Institute headquartered in Berlin.

    “This is the first clear evidence that there were urban societies in this part of the Amazon Basin,” says Jonas Gregorio de Souza, an archaeologist at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. The study adds to a growing body of research indicating that the Amazon — long thought to have been pristine wilderness before the arrival of Europeans — was home to advanced societies well before that. The discovery was published on 25 May in Nature1.

    A shift in thinking

    Humans have lived in the Amazon Basin — a vast river-drainage system roughly the size of the continental United States — for around 10,000 years . Researchers thought that before the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century, all Amazonians lived in small, nomadic tribes that had little impact on the world around them. And although early European visitors described a landscape filled with towns and villages, later explorers were unable to find these sites.


    By the twentieth century, archaeologists had yet to confirm the rumours, and argued that the Amazon’s nutrient-poor soil was unable to support large-scale agriculture, and that it would have prevented tropical civilizations — similar to those found in central America and southeast Asia — from arising in the Amazon. By the 2000s, however, archaeological opinion was beginning to shift. Some researchers suggested2 that unusually high concentrations of domesticated plants, along with patches of unusually nutrient-rich soil that could have been created by people, might indicate that ancient Amazonians had indeed shaped their environment.

    The hypothesis gained steam when, in 2018, archaeologists reported3 hundreds of large, geometric mounds that had been uncovered because of deforestation in the southern Amazon rainforest. These structures hinted at ancient organized societies capable of thriving in one location for years — but direct evidence of settlements was lacking.

    In 1999, Prümers began studying a set of mounds in the Bolivian part of the Amazon Basin, outside the thick rainforest. There, a multitude of tree-covered mounds rise above a lowland area that floods during the rainy season.

    Previous digs had revealed that these ‘forest islands’ contained traces of human habitation, including the remains of the mysterious Casarabe culture, which appeared around AD 500. During one excavation, Prümers and his colleagues realized that they had found what looked like a wall, indicating that a permanent settlement had once occupied the area. The researchers also found graves, platforms and other indications of a complex society. But dense vegetation made it difficult for them to use conventional methods to survey the site.

    What lies beneath

    By the 2010s, a technique called lidar — a remote-sensing technology that uses lasers to generate a 3D image of the ground below — had come into vogue with archaeologists. In 2012, a lidar survey of a valley in Honduras helped lead to the rediscovery of an ancient pre-Columbian city rumoured to exist in the area. The jungle had completely overtaken the settlement since it was abandoned in the fifteenth century, making it all but impossible to see from the air without lidar.

    Prümers and his colleagues took advantage of lidar in 2019, when they flew a helicopter equipped with the technology over six areas near sites confirmed to have been occupied by the Casarabe people. The team got more than it bargained for, with lidar revealing the size and shape of 26 settlements, including 11 the researchers hadn’t been looking for — a monumental task that would have taken 400 years to survey by conventional means, Prümers says.

    Two of the urban centres each covered an area of more than 100 hectares — three times the size of Vatican City. The lidar images revealed walled compounds with broad terraces rising 6 metres above the ground. Conical pyramids made of earth towered above one end of the terraces (see ‘The settlement beneath’). People probably lived in the areas around the terraces and travelled along the causeways that connected the sites to one another.

    “We have this image of Amazonia as a green desert — devoid of any type of culture,” Prümers says. But given that civilizations rose and thrived in other tropical areas, he notes, “Why shouldn’t something like that exist here?”

    Mysteries remain

    Why these settlements were abandoned after 900 years is still a mystery. Radiocarbon dating has revealed that the Casarabe disappeared around 1400.

    Prümers points out that lidar images revealed reservoirs in the settlements, perhaps indicating that this part of the world wasn’t always wet — an environmental shift that might have driven people away. However, consistent pollen records reveal4 that maize (corn) was grown in the area continuously for thousands of years, indicating sustainable agricultural practices.

    At the very least, the discovery of long-lost Amazonian societies “changes the general perspective people have of Amazonian archaeology”, says Eduardo Neves, an archaeologist at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. Present-day logging and farming in the Amazon Basin are almost certainly destroying important archaeological sites that have yet to be discovered, he says, but a growing interest in Amazonian archaeology could lead to the protection of vulnerable places.

    These discoveries also counter the narrative that Indigenous peoples were passive inhabitants of the Amazon Basin before the arrival of Europeans. “The people who lived there changed the landscape forever,” Neves says.
    • Correction 26 May 2022: An earlier version of this story said that there are hundreds of tree-covered mounds rising above a lowland area in the Bolivian Amazon. Some estimates suggest there are many more than that.

    Source

    © Copyright Original Source




    The paper, Lidar reveals pre-Hispanic low-density urbanism in the Bolivian Amazon can be read by clicking the hyperlink, and the Abstract is posted below


    Abstract

    Archaeological remains of agrarian-based, low-density urbananism1,2,3 have been reported to exist beneath the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and Central America4,5,6. However, beyond some large interconnected settlements in southern Amazonia7,8,9, there has been no such evidence for pre-Hispanic Amazonia. Here we present lidar data of sites belonging to the Casarabe culture (around AD 500 to AD 1400)10,11,12,13 in the Llanos de Mojos savannah–forest mosaic, southwest Amazonia, revealing the presence of two remarkably large sites (147 ha and 315 ha) in a dense four-tiered settlement system. The Casarabe culture area, as far as known today, spans approximately 4,500 km2, with one of the large settlement sites controlling an area of approximately 500 km2. The civic-ceremonial architecture of these large settlement sites includes stepped platforms, on top of which lie U-shaped structures, rectangular platform mounds and conical pyramids (which are up to 22 m tall). The large settlement sites are surrounded by ranked concentric polygonal banks and represent central nodes that are connected to lower-ranked sites by straight, raised causeways that stretch over several kilometres. Massive water-management infrastructure, composed of canals and reservoirs, complete the settlement system in an anthropogenically modified landscape. Our results indicate that the Casarabe-culture settlement pattern represents a type of tropical low-density urbanism that has not previously been described in Amazonia.


    And of course, some images

    locator-map-4091021.jpg



    f215b098-c8ad-4a15-8846-885966c00b9a.jpg
    Lidar coverage is marked by the grey areas (A–F). Black triangles represent settlement sites of the Casarabe culture
    that have platform mound architecture. The topographical layer is based on TanDEM-X DEM 12-m data.



    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

  • #2
    Two side-ways shifts brought this article to light, which leads to consideration that a possibility of climatic conditions causing the disappearance of the culture might be worth considering.
    1Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω
    Come to your senses as you ought and stop sinning; for I say to your shame, there are some who know not God.
    .
    "when the church no longer teaches its people why they believe what they believe, the world will often step in and fill in the gaps." Ryan Danker

    "The synoptic gospels claim that Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of Nisan and buried on the 14th day of Nisan:" Majority Consensus

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by tabibito View Post
      Two side-ways shifts brought this article to light, which leads to consideration that a possibility of climatic conditions causing the disappearance of the culture might be worth considering.
      The Great Drought of 1302-07 and Great Famine of 1315-1321 were devastating to Europe and pretty much forgotten about given how the Black Death kicked off only a couple decades later.

      Whether what caused the first two was linked to the collapse of the Casarabe Culture in the Amazon is pretty much speculation.

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
        The Great Drought of 1302-07 and Great Famine of 1315-1321 were devastating to Europe and pretty much forgotten about given how the Black Death kicked off only a couple decades later.

        Whether what caused the first two was linked to the collapse of the Casarabe Culture in the Amazon is pretty much speculation.
        It was more and the mention of global warming and its association with this piece that got my attention,
        The next event that came close was not until the drought of 1360-62, which stretched across Europe and for which there indications in the historical record in Japan, Korea, and India,"

        but yes, it is speculation.
        1Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω
        Come to your senses as you ought and stop sinning; for I say to your shame, there are some who know not God.
        .
        "when the church no longer teaches its people why they believe what they believe, the world will often step in and fill in the gaps." Ryan Danker

        "The synoptic gospels claim that Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of Nisan and buried on the 14th day of Nisan:" Majority Consensus

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by tabibito View Post

          It was more and the mention of global warming and its association with this piece that got my attention,
          The next event that came close was not until the drought of 1360-62, which stretched across Europe and for which there indications in the historical record in Japan, Korea, and India,"

          but yes, it is speculation.
          Two things all those places have in common are northern hemisphere and above the tropics. The Amazon Basin wouldn't necessarily be affected, and might even have wet weather by comparison.

          Were there any southern hemisphere civilizations keeping records at that time?
          "You should just assume going forward that if I am ever wrong it is a typo" - Backup
          "
          Reality simply does not change based upon consensus or desire." - rogue

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ronson View Post

            Two things all those places have in common are northern hemisphere and above the tropics. The Amazon Basin wouldn't necessarily be affected, and might even have wet weather by comparison.

            Were there any southern hemisphere civilizations keeping records at that time?
            It seems that the global warming was in fact global.
            https://theconversation.com/climate-...-period-155294

            The warm conditions during this period brought many benefits to Earth’s plant and animal life, but in some other parts of the world, people’s lives were instead made worse by intense droughts. Parts of western America and the great Mayan cities of Central America were hit by mega droughts, and Andean civilisations wilted in the face of an emptied Lake Titicaca and faltering freshwater runoff in coastal river valleys.

            PDF: Working paper, not yet peer reviewed. ESSOAr | https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10501514.2 | CC_BY_4.0 | First posted online: Wed, 1 Jan 2020

            Our South Pole glaciochemical record suggests that that atmospheric reorganization occurred in two steps. The first shift in circulation occurred ~1400 CE, as evidenced by a decline in dust and SO42-. We suggest that these decreases were the result of a poleward contraction and zonal intensification of the SHWs, {{Southern Hemisphere Westerlies}} thus restricting dust and SO42- transport from the middle-440 latitudes to Antarctica. Changes in SO42- also indicate a decrease in winter-spring sea ice extent in the Weddell Sea and in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean during te LIA, which was countered by an increase in ice extent in the Ross Sea sector.




            Rogue's article indicates that the finds are very recent, so it will be a matter of waiting to see what digs turn up to indicate a cause (if anything). The only southern hemisphere records that might exist (that I can think of) would have to be in South America.
            Last edited by tabibito; 05-29-2022, 03:22 PM.
            1Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω
            Come to your senses as you ought and stop sinning; for I say to your shame, there are some who know not God.
            .
            "when the church no longer teaches its people why they believe what they believe, the world will often step in and fill in the gaps." Ryan Danker

            "The synoptic gospels claim that Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of Nisan and buried on the 14th day of Nisan:" Majority Consensus

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tabibito View Post

              It seems that the global warming was in fact global.
              https://theconversation.com/climate-...-period-155294

              The warm conditions during this period brought many benefits to Earth’s plant and animal life, but in some other parts of the world, people’s lives were instead made worse by intense droughts. Parts of western America and the great Mayan cities of Central America were hit by mega droughts, and Andean civilisations wilted in the face of an emptied Lake Titicaca and faltering freshwater runoff in coastal river valleys.
              PDF: Working paper, not yet peer reviewed. ESSOAr | https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10501514.2 | CC_BY_4.0 | First posted online: Wed, 1 Jan 2020

              Our South Pole glaciochemical record suggests that that atmospheric reorganization occurred in two steps. The first shift in circulation occurred ~1400 CE, as evidenced by a decline in dust and SO42-. We suggest that these decreases were the result of a poleward contraction and zonal intensification of the SHWs, {{Southern Hemisphere Westerlies}} thus restricting dust and SO42- transport from the middle-440 latitudes to Antarctica. Changes in SO42- also indicate a decrease in winter-spring sea ice extent in the Weddell Sea and in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean during te LIA, which was countered by an increase in ice extent in the Ross Sea sector.


              Rogue's article indicates that the finds are very recent, so it will be a matter of waiting to see what digs turn up to indicate a cause (if anything). The only southern hemisphere records that might exist (that I can think of) would have to be in South America.
              I found this

              https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2002411117

              According to this study of tree rings (although it only goes back to 1400 AD) the particular area in question has been prone to some very severe droughts. Maybe it has something to do with the Andean range?

              drought.jpg
              Last edited by Ronson; 05-29-2022, 03:32 PM.
              "You should just assume going forward that if I am ever wrong it is a typo" - Backup
              "
              Reality simply does not change based upon consensus or desire." - rogue

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by tabibito View Post

                It seems that the global warming was in fact global.
                https://theconversation.com/climate-...-period-155294

                The warm conditions during this period brought many benefits to Earth’s plant and animal life, but in some other parts of the world, people’s lives were instead made worse by intense droughts. Parts of western America and the great Mayan cities of Central America were hit by mega droughts, and Andean civilisations wilted in the face of an emptied Lake Titicaca and faltering freshwater runoff in coastal river valleys.
                PDF: Working paper, not yet peer reviewed. ESSOAr | https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10501514.2 | CC_BY_4.0 | First posted online: Wed, 1 Jan 2020

                Our South Pole glaciochemical record suggests that that atmospheric reorganization occurred in two steps. The first shift in circulation occurred ~1400 CE, as evidenced by a decline in dust and SO42-. We suggest that these decreases were the result of a poleward contraction and zonal intensification of the SHWs, {{Southern Hemisphere Westerlies}} thus restricting dust and SO42- transport from the middle-440 latitudes to Antarctica. Changes in SO42- also indicate a decrease in winter-spring sea ice extent in the Weddell Sea and in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean during te LIA, which was countered by an increase in ice extent in the Ross Sea sector.




                Rogue's article indicates that the finds are very recent, so it will be a matter of waiting to see what digs turn up to indicate a cause (if anything). The only southern hemisphere records that might exist (that I can think of) would have to be in South America.
                How about the Kingdom of Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, which flourished during this time? IIRC, there was a kingdom in Angola then as well.

                I'm always still in trouble again

                "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ronson View Post

                  I found this

                  https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2002411117

                  According to this study of tree rings (although it only goes back to 1400 AD) the particular area in question has been prone to some very severe droughts. Maybe it has something to do with the Andean range?

                  drought.jpg
                  Andean droughts are thought to have caused the collapse of at least a few civilizations along the Pacific coast

                  I'm always still in trouble again

                  "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                  "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                  "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                    How about the Kingdom of Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, which flourished during this time? IIRC, there was a kingdom in Angola then as well.
                    Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city near Masvingo, central Zimbabwe which was inhabited between c. 1100 to c. 1550 (flourishing c. 1300 - c. 1450) in the region’s Late Iron Age.

                    The precise causes of Great Zimbabwe's decline are not known but competition from rival states and the working out of gold deposits are the most likely explanations. There may have been problems caused by overpopulation, too, such as overworking of the land and deforestation, a situation perhaps brought to crisis point by a series of droughts.


                    Until now - no information found about Angola that dates to before the sixteenth century.
                    1Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω
                    Come to your senses as you ought and stop sinning; for I say to your shame, there are some who know not God.
                    .
                    "when the church no longer teaches its people why they believe what they believe, the world will often step in and fill in the gaps." Ryan Danker

                    "The synoptic gospels claim that Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of Nisan and buried on the 14th day of Nisan:" Majority Consensus

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tabibito View Post

                      Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city near Masvingo, central Zimbabwe which was inhabited between c. 1100 to c. 1550 (flourishing c. 1300 - c. 1450) in the region’s Late Iron Age.

                      The precise causes of Great Zimbabwe's decline are not known but competition from rival states and the working out of gold deposits are the most likely explanations. There may have been problems caused by overpopulation, too, such as overworking of the land and deforestation, a situation perhaps brought to crisis point by a series of droughts.


                      Until now - no information found about Angola that dates to before the sixteenth century.
                      Might have been this:


                      Kongo, former kingdom in west-central Africa, located south of the Congo River (present-day Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo). According to traditional accounts, the kingdom was founded by Lukeni lua Nimi about 1390. Originally, it was probably a loose federation of small polities, but, as the kingdom expanded, conquered territories were integrated as a royal patrimony. Soyo and Mbata were the two most powerful provinces of the original federation; other provinces included Nsundi, Mpangu, Mbamba, and Mpemba. The capital of the kingdom was Mbanza Kongo. The capital and its surrounding area were densely settled—more so than other towns in and near the kingdom. This allowed the manikongo (king of Kongo) to keep close at hand the manpower and supplies necessary to wield impressive power and centralize the state.

                      When Portuguese arrived in Kongo in 1483, Nzinga a Nkuwu was the manikongo. In 1491 both he and his son, Mvemba a Nzinga, were baptized and assumed Christian names—João I Nzinga a Nkuwu and Afonso I Mvemba a Nzinga, respectively.


                      1390... present-day Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo.




                      I'm always still in trouble again

                      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                      "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                        Might have been this:


                        Kongo, former kingdom in west-central Africa, located south of the Congo River (present-day Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo). According to traditional accounts, the kingdom was founded by Lukeni lua Nimi about 1390. Originally, it was probably a loose federation of small polities, but, as the kingdom expanded, conquered territories were integrated as a royal patrimony. Soyo and Mbata were the two most powerful provinces of the original federation; other provinces included Nsundi, Mpangu, Mbamba, and Mpemba. The capital of the kingdom was Mbanza Kongo. The capital and its surrounding area were densely settled—more so than other towns in and near the kingdom. This allowed the manikongo (king of Kongo) to keep close at hand the manpower and supplies necessary to wield impressive power and centralize the state.

                        When Portuguese arrived in Kongo in 1483, Nzinga a Nkuwu was the manikongo. In 1491 both he and his son, Mvemba a Nzinga, were baptized and assumed Christian names—João I Nzinga a Nkuwu and Afonso I Mvemba a Nzinga, respectively.


                        1390... present-day Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo.


                        That's one messy history.
                        1Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω
                        Come to your senses as you ought and stop sinning; for I say to your shame, there are some who know not God.
                        .
                        "when the church no longer teaches its people why they believe what they believe, the world will often step in and fill in the gaps." Ryan Danker

                        "The synoptic gospels claim that Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of Nisan and buried on the 14th day of Nisan:" Majority Consensus

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tabibito View Post

                          That's one messy history.
                          There still might be dendrochronological and other evidence available

                          I'm always still in trouble again

                          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                          "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Getting back to the OP:



                            I'm always still in trouble again

                            "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                            "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                            "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                            Comment

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