WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2003 – Newly discovered traces of ancient roads, bridges, and plazas in BrazilĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s tropical forest may help dispel the once-popular impression of an Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“untouchedĂ˘â‚¬Âť Amazon before the EuropeansĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ arrival.
In southern Brazil, archaeologists have found the remains of a network of urban communities that apparently hosted a population many thousands strong.
Reporting their findings in the journal Science, published by AAAS, the science society, the researchers say the people who dwelled there dramatically changed their local landscape.
In the upper Xingu region of the southern Amazon, in central Brazil, Michael Heckenberger of the University of Florida and his colleagues have discovered centuries-old remains of roads that appear to link a network of large villages in a carefully organized, gridlike pattern. The residents, ancestors of the modern-day Xinguanos, dug enormous ditches around the villages, built bridges and moats in wetland areas, and cultivated large tracts of land.
It seems that virtually no part of this landscape was truly wild, or Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“pristine.Ă˘â‚¬Âť Even some of the forested areas may have been more akin to a large park than to untouched forest, according to Heckenberger.