Thursday, September 25, 2003

Evidence of Pre-Columbian Civilisation Found in Amazon

Relatively large pre-Columbian societies dramatically modified one of the least-known areas of the Amazon Basin, the Upper Xingú River, along the Brazilian Amazon's southeast edge, says a study published last week by Science magazine.

The study, directed by archaeologist Michael Heckenberger, of the University of Florida, debunks the notions that the Amazon was a virgin forest when the Europeans reached the Americas in the 15th century and that barren soils had made massive human settlements impossible.

The Upper Xingú, in Mato Grosso state, was settled by Kuikuro Indians in the 9th and 10th centuries, according to evidence in ceramics, organic materials and other objects that archaeologists have uncovered.

The discoveries indicate the existence of ”large villages, surrounded by ditches and palisades, forming a defensive structures” during the 14th and 15th centuries and the early 16th century, Brazilian ethnologist Carlos Fausto, a member of the research team, told Tierramérica.

The scientists have uncovered an ”astonishing plan” of 19 pre-Columbian villages linked to small settlements around them.

”The villages were always three to five kilometres apart and connected by remarkably straight roads,” which measured up to 35 meters wide, according to the Science article.

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