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Amazon earthworks predate the rainforest

Posted on Monday, 14 July, 2014 | Comment icon 8 comments

The Amazon river running through the forest. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 CIAT
Man-made ditches found across the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon remain something of a mystery.
The ditches, which are either straight, square or ring-shaped, indicate that humans had been engaging in major earthwork projects across the Amazon long before Europeans arrived in South America.

"People have been affecting the global climate system through land use for not just the past 200 to 300 years, but for thousands of years," said study author John Francis Carson.

For a long time it was believed that the indigenous people had used the forest's resources sparingly, cutting down only the trees that they needed before moving on to let the forest grow back.

The discovery of major earthworks however has opened up the possibility that these pre-Columbian people may have been conducting large scale slash-and-burn operations for several centuries before Columbus had arrived in the Americas.

It isn't clear exactly what the purpose of these earthworks would have been however the most likely explanation is that they were either for defense, drainage or for ceremonial practices.

Source: Huffington Post | Comments (8)

Tags: Amazon, Rainforest

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by John Wesley Boyd on 14 July, 2014, 15:57
The Amazon basin had a population comparable to Peru in pre columbian times. You can tell where villages and towns once stood from the rich black soil the Indians created and nurtured. This is in contrast to the rest of the forest floor which is nutrient poor.
Comment icon #2 Posted by seeder on 14 July, 2014, 16:23
Already posted
Comment icon #3 Posted by qxcontinuum on 15 July, 2014, 3:11
It is known that many indigenous populations like maya have dissapeared . It is believed they modified their landscape including cutting trees to such extend that were left inprotected and killed by wild animals to the disparitions.
Comment icon #4 Posted by stevemagegod on 15 July, 2014, 3:14
interesting. The Forest is so big i can barerly wrap my mind around it. It would suck to get lost in it though.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Silent Trinity on 15 July, 2014, 9:35
Interesting article. I think it is clear that we don't fully appreciate the length of our history on this planet. Of course much of that is due to historical evidence existing from more recent ages more abundantly, and not much beyond 'uniform' earthworks existing from our most ancient ancestors to indicate our presence in this case. It does seem consistent with the activities the article suggests and it is most likely not natural as after all, nature abhors uniformity, I suppose this touches upon the Intelligent Design Movement and the fact that if they see a straight line out there in the un... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by magikgoddess on 17 July, 2014, 0:25
Interesting article, thanks for the link. I can't help but wonder what else they'll discover as the deforestation of the rain forest continues...
Comment icon #7 Posted by OverSword on 19 July, 2014, 0:39
Annoyingly, no photographs.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hawkin on 25 July, 2014, 22:28
It would seem that advanced civilizations existed long before the ones we know about. The history books may have to be rewritten. Time will tell.

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