The oldest collection of lost cities to date has been discovered in the tropical jungle of Ecuador. According to archaeologists, at its peak it could have been inhabited by up to 30,000 people. The discovery was made thanks to LiDAR technology, which allows one to look beneath the dense layer of Amazonian vegetation.
Since the beginning of time, the Amazon region has been the birthplace and death place of civilizations. As a study published in the journal Science showed, cities have been there for more than 2,000 years, and some of them were already huge.
Valley of the Lost Cities
Traces of lost cities have been found in the Obano River Valley in Ecuador. The first traces of ancient settlement were noticed there more than two decades ago, but then scientists were unable to thoroughly examine the area – the dense vegetation made it impossible to do so. Just a few years ago, LiDAR mapping technology, which uses laser sensors to look beneath the rainforest, came to their aid.
Survey results of the area over many years have shown that the Obano Valley contains a network of cities – five larger cities and ten smaller cities – connected to each other by many roads. Residential buildings and temples were surrounded by agricultural fields and drainage canals. The main roads were 10 meters wide and extended 10 to 20 kilometers.
“It was the valley of lost cities,” said Stephen Rostin of France's National Center for Scientific Research, lead author of the study. – Something amazing.
Advanced drilling works
According to researchers, the settlements were inhabited by the Obano people in the period between approximately 500 BC and 300-600 AD, and these are the oldest traces of settlement found in this region. It is estimated that this place was home to at least 10,000 inhabitants, and at its peak it could have numbered as many as 30,000. This is similar to the population of London in Roman times.
The Obano people who inhabited these areas were primarily engaged in agriculture, but new finds show that they were familiar with the complex workings of urban planning. Scientists pointed out that building such an advanced system of roads and thousands of earthen mounds required organized work. In previous studies conducted in Bolivia and Brazil, scientists have found traces of other advanced civilizations from pre-Columbian times.
– There has always been an amazing diversity of communities and settlements in the Amazon region. Now we're learning more about them, Rustin added.
Main image source: Stephen Rustin
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