Amazonian Indians More Advanced Than We Knew
Bolivia: For decades, archaeologists thought Amazonian Indians were: Lowly hunter-gatherers. Lived in widely scattered villages. Barely made a living in the harsh landscape.
Vast earthen mounds 25
All were all built centuries ago.
Scientists are especially impressed by the mounds. An average mound covered 50% more
area than a football field. The largest were earthen hills topped by pyramid-like
structures. Some were higher than a 6-story
building. They often stood in the center of a network of
canals and causeways.
Lombardo says these structures would be considered "huge work" if they were built today. The amount of dirt moved to build them could fill the Great Pyramid at Giza -- twice. Yet the mounds were built without metal tools, pack animals, or even the wheel.
The neat patterns of mounds, canals and other features suggest that work was highly planned and well-organized. This suggests the area was densely populated and politically organized -- not the work of hunter-gathers.
"There's a certain amount of aesthetics and pride here," said Clark Erickson of the University of Pennsylvania. "These people ... expressed pride in the community in mounds that towered over the landscape."
The function of the mounds is still uncertain. While people lived on them, the mounds also had ritual or political importance. Perhaps they held dance platforms or ball courts.
Most structures were in continual use from around 500 - 1400 A.D. The first Europeans arrived in the area in the 1600s.
The study will be published in the August edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
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