Ancient Cities Found in the Amazon

Anthropologists have discovered traces of highly organized and gridded cities in the Amazon rainforest dating back to the 1200s.
August 31, 2008, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"The finding suggests that vast swathes of 'pristine' rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists."

"The repeated patterns within and among settlements across the landscape suggest a highly ordered and planned society on par with any medieval European town."

"The finding supports a controversial theory that the Amazon River Basin teemed with large societies that were all but obliterated by disease when European colonists arrived in the 15th and 16th centuries."

"So far he has identified at least two major clusters-or polities-of towns, villages, and hamlets. Each cluster contains a central seat of ritualistic power with wide roads radiating out to other communities."

"A major road aligned with the summer solstice intersects each central plaza."

"'The whole landscape is almost like a latticework, the way it is gridded off,' Heckenberger said. 'The individual centers themselves are much less constructed. It is more patterned at the regional level.'"

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Published on Friday, August 29, 2008 in National Geographic
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