Large cities in the middle of the Bolivian Amazon rainforest: thanks to cutting-edge technology, archaeologists have just revealed the existence of highly populated colonies in the heart of the Amazon several centuries ago. They published their finding in the journal Nature. If this civilization of the Casarabes was already known, this discovery thwarts the theses which, until now, evoked small nomadic societies.
The technology used is the Lidar method (Light detection and ranging): an airborne laser scanner maps the relief of the area overflown. As the Amazonian forest is very dense, with a lot of vegetation, the work of archaeologists is difficult, both to access the sites and to have an overview of them. The team of archaeologists was able to bring to light a series of platforms, gigantic, several hundred hectares with a whole network of paths, irrigation canals, but also pyramids etc.
Until now, experts have always thought of Amazonian cultures as being more or less nomadic groups, with few members and who did not build such imposing infrastructures as those we imagine today.
“When you get such a detailed map you can clearly see that everything is connected, explains Carla Jaimes Betancourt, one of the archaeologists who wrote the article. It’s not an archaeological site and then another site further away, no, they are real tropical cities.” “With the infrastructures that we have discovered, continues the scientist, we understand that there was planning and that a lot of people were needed to build. This civilization lived for about 1000 years, during which time the canals were enlarged, as well as the water reservoirs, walls were built, all this is typical of a city, comparable to medieval European cities.” Che tropical cities are said to have been built between the 5th and 15th centuries AD.
It is now a question of determining exactly how many people lived in these cities and how this Casarabe civilization lived with the rather hostile nature of the savannahs and the Amazonian forest. Time is running out for archaeologists, as mechanized agriculture in these Amazon regions is destroying archaeological sites every day.