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What would you say if someone asked you about the history of Amazonia? Archaeologist Stéphen Rostain, who knows a thing or two about the region, insists in a recent Profile that the answer is “nothing, because the history that we think we know is wrong.” In a study recently published in Science, Rostain chronicles a 30-year research project and the astonishing discovery of a 2,500-year-old metropolis in the Ecuadorian rainforest, a “lost valley of cities.”
The discovery of thousands upon thousands of houses and complex roads, as well as plazas, ceremony sites, and drainage channels, exceeded all expectations. More than 6,000 earthen platforms, likely communal buildings and homes, are connected to a sophisticated road network that connects 15 urban areas, surrounded with terraced agricultural fields.
Rostain and colleagues used aerial Lidar (light detection and range) to scan an ancient Amazonian network of cities that covered 115 square miles. Built around 500 B.C.E. and occupied for hundreds of years until the population began to migrate away between 300 and 600 C.E., the the Upper Amazon site’s immense scale places it in league with comparable Maya urban systemsRecently found in Mexico, Guatemala and the United States.
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