Thursday, December 15, 2016

NYT: A ‘Stonehenge,’ and a Mystery, in the Amazon

“I had no idea that I was discovering the Amazon’s own Stonehenge,” said Mr. da Silva, 65, on a scorching October day as he gazed at the archaeological site located just north of the Equator. “It makes me wonder: What other secrets about our past are still hidden in Brazil’s jungles?”

After conducting radiocarbon testing and carrying out measurements during the winter solstice, scholars in the field of archaeoastronomy determined that an indigenous culture arranged the megaliths into an astronomical observatory about 1,000 years ago, or five centuries before the European conquest of the Americas began.

Their findings, along with other archaeological discoveries in Brazil in recent years — including giant land carvings, remains of fortified settlements and even complex road networks — are upending earlier views of archaeologists who argued that the Amazon had been relatively untouched by humans except for small, nomadic tribes.

Instead, some scholars now assert that the world’s largest tropical rain forest was far less “Edenic” than previously imagined, and that the Amazon supported a population of as many as 10 million people before the epidemics and large-scale slaughter put into motion by European colonizers.

Via Reddit:


Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

There has always been rumors of a lost city in the Amazon, buried by the jungle.

This is interesting since it suggests there is potential.

We had complex societies in the Central American rainforests, so why not in the Amazon?

Amartel said...

Highly recommend reading "1491" by Charles C. Mann which details and contextualizes a lot of this stuff. Very readable. There were complex and advanced civilizations in the Americas before Columbus, and also less complex/advanced civilizations. Much like now or any other time. It's truly fascinating. The follow up, "1493" was also good but less readable, more of a collection of interesting essays.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Those ancient Amazon-dwellers must have had their own version of Tycho Brahe.


Why the hell not?

chickelit said...

How does this tie-in with Trump?

Lem said...


Lem said...

Thank goodness not everything ties 👔 to Trump

AJ Lynch said...

The PC crowd is always wanting to embiggen the number of people killed by disease brought by the European colonists. If there were ten million people in Brazil, there'd be a lot of skeletons unearthed I would suppose. So where are all the skeletons of the natives?

deborah said...

The field of archeoastronomy...that's anew one on me!

Chip Ahoy said...

What else did they have to do at night besides stare at the stars? Come on. There IS nothing else.

And the seasons are important to agricultural societies. Do this awhile and you end up seeing all sorts of things up there.

And it's natural for all societies to arrange to arrange rocks to keep track of the seasons. They were f'n stone age after all.

Advanced societies, ha!. Advanced for stone age societies, that is.

Don't you find it weird when writers set down to describe how advanced Central American societies were judging by their piles of rocks? (You cant even fit a razor blade between the stones! Of course not, you DOPE, you cannot slip a razor blade between any stones no matter how rudely stacked) How many times have you heard that? How many times have you read this conceit: "And they did this when Europe was in the Dark Ages"

When Europe was in the Dark Ages they competed building cathedrals. The went tall and airy. With astonishing tall windows. They built thin walls with arches. The did all this while Central Americans stacked stones.

And of course they would stack stones to use as observatories and keep track. To recap, there was no other nighttime activity and knowing when to plant is important.

I walked around the observatory at Chichen Itza, and believe me, it's not all that. Goodness those people were short.

Imagine how many pole-henges are lost to deterioration and smaller stone markers knocked down to plow.

That's my opinion and I'm sticky wicked.

AllenS said...

You didn't build that, the Russians did. The Russians can do just about everything, can't they?

deborah said...

Oh, Chip, how could you?

Amartel said...

This discussion of pre-Columbian Americas is absolutely fascinating, scholarly (as opp. academic), and has no political agenda: 1491 excerpts
If there is an agenda, it's exploding political agendas that have grown up in academia and the culture about the Edenic, "before the fall," minimally populated Americas filled with simple, peaceful uncivilized people.
Try it, you'll like it.