Archaeologists discover the hidden network of Amazon villages arranged clockwise

Using remote laser scanners mounted on helicopters, archaeologists have been able to see under the Amazon’s forest canopy, revealing the layout and links of ancient villages lined up like clock faces.

These so-called hilly villages were first seen, new survey technology revealed how they were arranged on the scale, and data were collected without the need for labor and excavation on the land.

These findings were made possible by LIDAR scanning technology – the same long-range, depth-sensing technology found in various forms in self-driving cars and in Apple’s new iPhone.

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“LIDAR has allowed us to explore their features, such as these villages and roads, which was not possible before because most of the available satellite data do not appear,” says Jose Eriart, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter in the UK.

Instead of working from hill to hill like in the past, the researchers were able to see the layout of entire villages and the connections between them, through a RIEGL VUX-1 UAV leader sensor monitoring the forest from above.

The scan showed how villages built between 1300-1700 CE were arranged to represent very specific social patterns without a clear hierarchy.

The team wrote in their paper that “the spatial layout of the mound villages, like many contemporary ring villages of Neotropics, represents the physical representations of the Native American universe.”

And m mounds were found at each location, in some cases the mounds themselves stretched to a height of 20 meters (.6 65..6 feet) at a height of meters (9. .8 feet). From homes to cemeteries – in the near future investigations should be able to reveal exactly what these mounds are used for.

Long, sunken small and large roads along the lowlands were also discovered by Lidar, spreading through villages with hills like the rays of the sun or the hands of a clock. Most of the villages showed two ways going north and two going south.

“Lider provides a new opportunity to discover and document soil sites in the wild parts of the Amazonia that have dense vegetation.” “It may also document the smallest surface soil features in recently opened pasture areas.”

Leader scanLIDAR scanner. (Iriarte Et al, Journal of Computer Applications in Archeology, 2020)

Archaeologists studied about 36 villages, some as short as 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles). Circular and elliptical villages as well as researchers also saw them arranged in a more rectangular shape.

The southeastern region of the state of Acre in Brazil, which was previously thought to have been sparsely populated for centuries, fills in some gaps in terms of the history of this part of the Amazon rainforest.

However, this work is only preliminary: there is a lot to learn about these well-arranged ancient settlements, which will have to keep an eye on the mounds of the face of this newly discovered clock and the art that can be found in it.

“Technol .G helps show the diverse and complex construction history of this part of the Amazon,” says Irieart.

Research has been published in Journal of Computer Applications in Archeology.