A valley of lost 2,000-year-old cities found in Amazon rainforest
History holds many more secrets, especially about ancient civilizations that existed before the conquest of the New World by the conquistadors. Recently, archaeologists have shocked the world with a discovery: they have found a cluster of lost cities in the Amazon rainforest.
According to the excavations, at least 10,000 farmers lived there about 2,000 years ago, which is a rather impressive figure for the ancient world. The details of the discovery were reported by The Guardian.
The first hints of earthen mounds and hidden roads in Ecuador were noticed by archaeologist Stéphen Rostain several decades ago. But then the scientist was not sure of his discovery and could not even imagine what large-scale excavations would lead to.
Recent mapping using laser sensor technology has shown that these sites were part of a dense network of settlements and connecting roads. Ancient cities were hidden in the forested foothills of the Andes. According to preliminary estimates, this civilization existed for about 1,000 years.
Rostein calls this area "the lost valley of cities." The researchers found that the settlements were inhabited by the Upano people. Chronologically, the cities date back to between 500 BC and 300-600 AD. The Roman Empire flourished and declined in Europe at this time.
The scale of the excavations is impressive: more than 6,000 earthen mounds surrounded agricultural fields with drainage channels. There were not only residential buildings but also ceremonial structures. The largest roads were 10 meters wide and stretched for 10-20 km.
It is difficult to estimate the population, but scientists suggest that at least 10,000 people could have lived in the lost valley. Antoine Dorison, a co-author of the study, cites even more impressive data: 15,000 to 30,000 at its peak. For comparison, this is the number of inhabitants of London in the Roman era, the largest city in Britain.
Michael Heckenberger, an archaeologist at the University of Florida, added that this indicates a very dense settlement and an extremely complex organization of society.
According to José Iriarte, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, a complex system of organized labor would have been required to build roads and thousands of earth mounds. The Incas and Mayans built with stone, but people in the Amazon had to use materials at hand: wood and mud.
"The Amazon is often thought of as an 'untouched desert' where only small groups of people live. But recent discoveries have shown us how much more complex the past really is," Iriarte emphasized.