Dozens of densely packed, pre-Columbian towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced today.
The finding suggests that vast swathes of "pristine" rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists.
"It is very different from what we might expect using certain classic models of urbanism," noted study co-author Michael Heckenberger, an anthropologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Nevertheless, he said, the repeated patterns within and among settlements across the landscape suggest a highly ordered and planned society on par with any medieval European town.
The finding supports a controversial theory that the Amazon River Basin teemed with large societies that were all but obliterated by disease when European colonists arrived in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The isolated tribes that remain in the Amazon today are the last survivors of these once-great societies, according to the theory.
How fascinating! I knew that there were tropical civilizations since some time in the 1980s when they started finding some of them. Now it looks like whole swathes of 'pristine' rain forest is just overground urban areas.
Combined with the fall of other new world civilizations such as the Anasazi, you might have an interesting bit of research for those that want to have some parallels for the sf books for post apocalyptic scenarios. Y'know, if you wanted to add some solid backing for your works to make it 'hard' social science fiction.
Likewise, the fact that 'pristine' chunks of the amazon - which the truly pristine chunks are less than 10k years old most likely, btw, a controversial post for another time - it says alot about the rebound capability of the rain forest.