With the deployment of airborne laser sensors as well as more traditional excavation techniques, archeologists have discovered evidence of a massive and sophisticated lost city in the dense Amazon rain forest region of eastern Ecuador in the Andes foothills.
Lead researcher Stephen Rostain of the National Center for Scientific Research in France told the BBC, “This is older than any other site we know in the Amazon. We have a Eurocentric view of civilization, but this shows we have to change our idea about what is culture and civilization.”
According to the survey of about 200 miles in the Amazon, the city — or network of “garden cities” — was built about 2,500 years ago and lasted for about 1,000 years, apparently rivaling Mayan sites in Mexico and Central America.
Rostain’s colleague Antoine Dorison explained to the BBC that the discovery “changes the way we see Amazonian cultures. Most people picture small groups, probably naked, living in huts and clearing land — this shows ancient people lived in complicated urban societies.”
The stunning finding in Ecuador’s Upano Valley, which was historically assumed to be sparsely populated, suggests that experts are perhaps only scratching the surface when it comes to the size, scope and structure of ancient civilizations.
The city which was heretofore hidden by jungle thicket could hardly be characterized as primitive.
For ScienceNews, Rostain described it as “‘an entirely human-engineered landscape’ built by skilled urban planners.”
University of Florida anthropology professor Michael Heckenberger seemed to agree.
“This shows an unprecedented degree of complexity and density of settlement for this early time frame,” he told NewScientist.
At this point, archeologists have yet to determine what happened to the Upano people who constructed five major settlements in the area. One theory is that volcano eruptions may be why the area might have been abandoned.
Among other things, archeologists intended next to try to figure out the size of the population when the area was inhabited.
Estimates range from the tens of thousands to possibly hundreds of thousands, the BBC reported.
They also plan to survey an adjoining 100-plus mile area in the valley.
Indeed, there is still much that remains unknown about the full history of the Americas.
Advances in specialized know-how could lead to more discoveries of lost cities that could challenge what has become known as settled science.
For example, the deployment of remote laser technology known as Lidar (for Light Detection and Ranging) enabled this newest discovery.
The study by the Rostain team was published in a recent issue of Science.
“Fieldwork and [Lidar] analysis have revealed an anthropized landscape with clusters of monumental platforms, plazas, and streets following a specific pattern intertwined with extensive agricultural drainages and terraces as well as wide straight roads running over great distances,” the abstract of the scholarly journal article detailed.
“The most notable landscape feature is the complex road system extending over tens of kilometers, connecting the different urban centers, thus creating a regional-scale network. Such extensive early development in the Upper Amazon is comparable to similar Maya urban systems recently highlighted in Mexico and Guatemala,” the abstract concluded.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.