Deforestation threatens to destroy the Amazon jungle but this time it was the key to an archaeological discovery that redefines the history of the largest forest in the world.
Thanks to aerial images of areas where there are practically no trees left, a group of archaeologists from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom discovered 81 villages that, according to their calculations, were inhabited by between 500,000 and 1 million people, during the years 1,200 and 1,450.
The discovery, revealed this week, took place in the south of the Amazon, in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.
The jungle of the Amazon is not as virgin as scientists thought
The interesting thing about the discovery is that these settlements are far from the main rivers, which questions the idea that the largest pre-Columbian populations of this region were only located around the large water sources.
Until a few years ago it was estimated that before the colonization, an area of about 5.5 million square kilometers of the Amazon Jungle was inhabited by about 8 million people. This finding, however, suggests that in just 2,000 square kilometers, an average of 750,000 people lived.
According to the researchers, these cultures probably combined small-scale agriculture with the management of fruit trees, such as chestnuts and varieties of palms.
The villages were constructed on “terra preta” – Black Earth
Researchers were intrigued by the geoglyphs they observed from the air, which are ditches carved into the earth in the form of geometric figures such as circles, squares, and hexagons.
Already in the field, the researchers found what they know as “terra preta” or black earth, a type of very fertile soil that forms in places where humans have settled for a long time.
When excavating, they found remains of ceramics and objects like axes made with carved stone. In addition, experts think that these were not isolated villages but corridors continuously inhabited by various cultures.
In conclusion, archaeologists made a huge discovery in the Amazon jungle, the world’s largest jungle, as they found traces of villages in an area about no one has ever thought it could’ve been populated.