Laser technology reveals ancient cities with pyramids in the Bolivian Amazon

Scientists believe the cities were built between 500 and 1400 AD and were hidden under thick vegetation for centuries

Scientists believe that the ancient cities of Bolivia were hidden for centuries
Scientists believe that the ancient cities of Bolivia were hidden for centuries

Thanks to new technologies, previously undiscovered ancient cities have been found deep in the savannah forest of Llanos de Mojos in Bolivia, stretching over hundreds of acres.

International researchers from Great Britain and Germany have found the settlements, believed to have been built between 500 and 1400 AD, which had been hidden from nature for centuries Daily Mail reports.

Dense vegetation had obscured the ancient ruins from previous surveys, but this research group used airborne laser technology for the first time in the Amazon.

Their results were published in the journal, Nature.

The evidence is taken as evidence of permanent occupation of the area in pre-Hispanic times and as evidence of sustainability and conservation.

Laser technology made the big breakthrough

“So the whole region was densely populated, a pattern that throws all previous assumptions out of whack,” said co-author Professor Carla Betancourt.

“For the first time we can reference pre-Hispanic urbanism in the Amazon and show the map of the Cotoca site, the largest settlement of the Casarabe culture known to date.”

The settlements feature towering terraces covering an area of ​​54 hectares – the equivalent of 30 football pitches – and 20 m high cone pyramids.

A vast network of reservoirs, dams, and checkpoints stretching for several miles was also discovered across the vast lands.

The results challenge the notion that Amazonia was pristine or pristine, but rather that it was home to early urbanism by indigenous peoples.

Dense vegetation had hidden the ancient ruins from previous surveys

“We have long suspected that this part of the Bolivian Amazon developed the most complex pre-Columbian societies in the entire basin, but the evidence is hidden beneath the canopy of trees and is difficult to visit in person,” said José Iriarte of the University of Exeter, the reports Daily Mail.

“There are monumental structures only a mile apart, connected by 600 miles of canals, which are long causeways connecting sites, reservoirs and lakes.”

The Mojos Plain on the southwestern edge of the Amazon is flooded for several months of the year during the rainy season, making it unsuitable for permanent settlement.

However, in recent decades evidence has emerged of irrigation, earthworks, large cities and dams and canals, often running for miles in a dead straight line across the savannahs.

Lidar technology surveys the terrain using a laser scanner attached to a helicopter, small aircraft or drone before then digitally removing vegetation.

Scientists have welcomed the groundbreaking discovery in Bolivia

A 3D image or a digital model of the earth’s surface is created.

The process revealed two notable large sites of 363 acres and 778 acres in a dense four tier settlement system.

The architecture consists of tiered platforms topped by U-shaped structures, rectangular platform mounds, and conical pyramids.

The study shows that the indigenous people not only managed forested landscapes, but also created urban landscapes in tandem – a proof of successful, sustainable subsistence strategies, but also of a previously undiscovered cultural-ecological heritage.

“‘Our results invalidate the arguments that western Amazonia was sparsely populated in pre-Hispanic times. The architectural design of the large settlement sites of the Casarabe culture indicates that the inhabitants of this region created a new social and public landscape,” said co-author Dr. Mark Robinson from the University of Exeter.

The research from the German Archaeological Institute, the University of Bonn, the University of Exeter and ArcTron 3D is published in the journal Nature.

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Fry Electronics Team

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