A recent study led by archaeologists from the University of São Paulo (Brazil) has uncovered traces of an ancient civilization that began to grow plants in a territory of the southwestern Amazon much earlier than previously thought.
By analyzing remnants of seeds, phytoliths and other plant materials in the oldest soils of the archaeological site of Teotonio, on the banks of the Madeira River, researchers made a stunning discovery: an advanced, highly developed agricultural civilization in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.
Likewise, they also studied remains of tools used by this civilization, publishes the EurekAlert.
The archaeological site revealed evidence of the cultivation of manioc, a plant that, according to genetic analyzes, was domesticated in the region more than 8,000 years ago.
In addition, researchers found remains of cultivated squash, beans and calathea, as well as important tree plantations such as palms and Brazil nuts.
Furthermore, scientists also came across evidence of a type of soil called “Anthropogenic Dark Earths” which both result from human alteration of local environments, writes Eureka Alert.
The results suggest that the ancient inhabitants of this region passed from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a farming culture much earlier than previously thought.
In addition, the study confirmed that the Teotonio region is a key area for the history of plant domestication in the Americas.
Jennifer Watling from the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at the University of São Paulo notes: “This discovery at the Teotonio waterfall in Southeast Amazonia is some of the oldest evidence for plant cultivation in lowland South America, confirming genetic evidence”.
This discovery adds to a growing list of important findings that have been made in the Amazon.
Earlier this years, archaeologists studying the Amazon uncovered traces of more than 80 highly developed ancient settlements in the middle of the Amazon. Research reveals that the Amazon was home to millions of people in the distant past. These people were farmers but also complex builders.
Using satellite imagery to try to identify ancient geoglyphs—earthworks likely used for ceremonies—in previously unexplored parts of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, experts discovered traces of an advanced ancient society. Archaeologists explain that the southern Amazon was likely covered in a network of large villages and ceremonial centers before Columbus.
Archaeologists revealed that there are around 1,300 geoglyphs and villages in a 154,000 square-mile swath of Southern Amazonia—two-thirds of which haven’t been found yet.