Researchers discovered some thousand years old mysterious structures in the Amazonian rainforest. They are not sure what the purpose of the enclosures could be, but they suspect they might have been used as ritual gathering places.
A team of English and Brazilian researchers discovered more than 450 massive geoglyph formations in the rainforests around the western Brazilian Amazon. These formations have been hidden by trees for so many time, but the recent deforestations brought them into sight.
The geoglyphs are ditched enclosures that resemble Stonehenge which they estimated to be more than 2,000 years old. They measure about 8,078 square miles (13,000 square kilometers). The researchers are not sure of their purpose, but they suspect they served as ritual places. They also claimed that the ancient humans altered the bamboo forests for millennia to create these enclosures.
Dr. Jennifer Watling, post-doctoral researcher at the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of the University of Sao Paulo, declared that this discovery challenges the idea of Amazonian rainforests as “pristine ecosystems”. Indeed, the finding occurred after many millennia of existence, but this suggested that the rainforest was not as untouched as previously thought.
The researchers wanted to find out if the region had already had rainforests at the time when the geoglyphs had been built and, if so, how humans had impacted the environment in building it. Thus, they reconstructed six millennia of fire and vegetation history and revealed severe alterations to the ecosystem.
For this study, they collected soil samples and phytoliths (fossils of microscopic plants) and they recreated the vegetation history, assessed the charcoal quantity from the soil to find out if massive burnings occurred, also established how “open” the vegetation was.
It appears that the ancient humans heavily altered the bamboo forests to create small clearings where they could build the formations. However, they did not burn large surfaces of forest and rather focused on certain tree species that were more important for an economic way, so to speak.
Now that the scientists discovered that the rainforests were not pristine, people should not forget how important it is to preserve this ecosystem. Although prehistoric humans altered these lands, they were never in such a bad condition as they are now. Instead, we should take example from the ancient civilizations that used the lands in a subsistence regime and did not lead to its massive degradation.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons