8) – As a result of the
deforestation of the Amazon basin, a startling discovery has been made.
Hidden from view for centuries, the vast archaeological remains of an
unknown, ancient civilization have been found.
A study published in Antiquity,
a British archaeological journal, details how satellite imagery was
used to discern the footprint of the buildings and roads of a
settlement, located in what is now Brazil and believed to span a region
of more than 150 miles across.
As Brazilian rain forest has been
cleared away to make way for animal grazing, the architectural
footprint of a network of ancient villages has been revealed.
"The combination of land cleared of its rain forest for grazing and
satellite survey have revealed a sophisticated pre-Columbian
monument-building society in the upper Amazon basin on the east side of
the Andes. This hitherto unknown people constructed earthworks of
precise geometric plan connected by straight orthogonal roads," the
researchers wrote in the journal.
David Grann, author of the book "The Lost City of Z," points out that
the existence of the ruins overturns the previously held belief that
this portion of the Amazon basin had always been a pristine wilderness,
even though legends of a lost Amazonian city still lingered by the time
the Spanish arrived on the continent.
"Although the early conquistadores had heard from the Indians about a
fabulously rich Amazonian civilization, which they named El Dorado, the
searches for it invariably ended in disaster," Grann wrote on The New Yorker's Web site.
"Thousands were wiped out by disease and starvation. And after a toll
of death and suffering worthy of Joseph Conrad, most scholars concluded
that El Dorado was no more than an illusion."
According to Martti Parssinen, Denise Schaan and Alceu Ranzi, the
authors of the study, the community likely had a population of more
than 60,000 people. The researchers said they have only uncovered
roughly 10 percent of the existing structures, which may date as far
back as A.D. 800.
The discovery of the ruins of an
ancient civilization in the upper Amazon basin overturns previously
held beliefs that the area had always been uninhabited.
As Grann describes in
his book, British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett claimed he had found
evidence of an ancient civilization, which he called the City of Z, in
the same area. He disappeared in the jungle on a 1925 expedition
undertaken with his son and a companion.
While isolated discoveries of pottery and road beds had been made over
the past few decades, the clear cutting of the Amazon forest laid bare
the scope of the archaeological site.>