Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Staggering Discoveries in The Amazon (Part 3)

Archeologists and anthropologists have long hypothesized that Native American ancestors entered from Siberia across Beringia, a land bridge made accessible by a substantial lowering of the sea-level toward the end of the last Ice Age.
Map of early human migrations
The staggering discovery recently of very ancient sites in much of South America that pre-dated by many centuries the long accepted oldest sites in North America has forced archaeologists to reconsider early human migration patterns.

Revised Migration Theories
In recent decades, genetics has provided new techniques to shed light on America’s first colonizers, particularly regarding the timing of their arrival and the routes they took.

Archaeological Research in the Amazon 

Archaeology in the Amazon has not been easy. Few rock formations in the jungle meant that any ancient buildings had to rely on wood. Once untended, or abandoned, they would soon be quickly swallowed by the jungle and turn to rot. In addition. early South American “monumental architecture” was expressed in packed dirt which was washed back into the alluvial floodplain long ago, effectively preventing archaeological discovery until the recent development of sophisticated techniques of remote sensing and reconstruction. 

Detailed below are a few of the highlights of ancient human settlement in the Amazon and elsewhere in Brazil.

Marajo Island

Anna Curtenius Roosevelt, the great-granddaughter of United States President Theodore Roosevelt is a leading American archeologist studying Paleoindians in the Amazon basin. In the 1980s on Marajo Island, at the mouth of the Amazon, she turned up house foundations, elaborate pottery and evidence of an agriculture so advanced she believes the society there possibly had well over 100,000 inhabitants.
In her book: “Moundbuilders of the Amazon”, Roosevelt documents the existence of a major moundbuilding culture possessing monumental architecture and a rich artistic tradition on the lowland tropical floodplain of Marajo Island at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. A well developed civilization existed there from about 400 AD to 1,300 AD, comparable in many ways to the Inca civilization to the west or to the Aztec and Maya cultures to the north.
Marajo Island, at the mouth of the Amazon
Distribution of Marajoara phase sites and pottery styles


Kuhikugu is an archaeological site located in Brazil, at the headwaters of the Xingu River, in the Amazon Rainforest. In this region, A series of settlements connected by roads has been found which may have  have supported as many as 50,000 people. This was covered more extensively on Part 2 (posted previously): Amazon - Indigenous People / Lost Cities?

Painted Rock Cave

A cave in the Amazon River basin near the town of Monte Alegre in northern Brazil has yielded evidence that people migrating from North to South America some 11,000 years ago did not settle exclusively in the Andes as previously believed. The new thinking suggests either that Paleo-indians branched east into the tropics or that a separate migration of people was involved.

Pedra Furada (Pierced Rock) sites

Located in the northeast of Brazil, the state of PiauĂ­ contains over 400 archaeological sites and the largest concentration of rock paintings in the world. The area includes a collection of rock shelters used for thousands of years by human populations.

Terra Preta (Black Soil)

In the Amazon Basin, outside Manaus, Brazil, Eduardo Neves, a renowned Brazilian archaeologist, and American scientists have found huge swaths of "terra preta," so-called Indian dark earth. This is a very dark earth made fertile by mixing charcoal, human waste and other organic matter with soil.  The varied features of the dark earths throughout the Amazon Basin suggest the existence of an extensive ancient native civilization dating back 500 to 25,00 years. In 15 years of work, scientists have also found vast orchards of semi-domesticated fruit trees suggesting large scale agriculture was developed by these ancient settlers.
Terra Preta

Amazon’s Stonehenge

Lastly — near the village of Calcoene, just north of the equator in the very northern Brazilian state of Amapa — a fascinating grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop was discovered.

This site may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory — a find that archaeologists say shows early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed. On the shortest day of the year, Dec. 21, the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it.
The Amazon Stonehenge

Further Info (Source and Credits)

Amazonia first inhabitants
Peopling of South America
The Amazon Trail
Scientists find evidence discrediting theory Amazon was virtually unlivable
Arrival of Paleo-Indians to the Southern Cone of South America
Marajo Island and Anna Curtenius Roosevelt
Marajoara culture (Wikipedia)
Moundbuilders of the Amazon - Book Review
Pre-Columbian occupation on Marajo Island
The Painted Rock Cave
In an Amazon Cave, Light Is Shed on Early Americans
Caverna da Pedra Pintada (Wikipedia)
Terra Preta 
Terra preta (Wikipedia)
Pedra Furada
Pedra Furada sites (Wikipedia)
The Amazon Stonehenge
Stonehenge of the Amazon (Wikipedia)
Another ‘Stonehenge’ discovered in Amazon
Megalithic Observatory (shows google map location)

Earthmovers of the Amazon (Bolivia’s Beni region)

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