The legendary Amazon “Lost City” was “discovered” by lidar

At the beginning of the 20th century, the British explorer Percy Fawcett travelled deep into the Amazon several times, looking for evidence of ancient civilizations that he believed once existed on that land. In 1925, in another quest to find the "Lost City of Z", the expedition team disappeared into the jungle since then…

▲ Picture from: Culture Trip

Percy's adventures led Conan Doyle to write the novel "The Lost World" based on him, and he also became the inspiration for the movie Indiana Jones. This last expedition was also made into the movie "The Lost City of Z" (which also included the new Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Spider-Man (Tom Hood) who were not superheroes at the time. Rand))

▲ Stills of "Lost in Z City", picture from: Douban

The mysterious lost city in the Amazon jungle has also become an even more curious legend. Now, legends are no longer just legends, and a new study published in the journal Nature by a team of scientists shows that ancient cities do exist in the Amazon.

In previous studies, it has been found that there were traces of human settlements in the now inaccessible Amazon jungle. This area is called "Casarabe Culture".

▲ Picture from: "Nature"

This cultural area, which existed from about 500 AD to 1400 AD, covers an area of ​​about 4,500 square kilometers. Previous remote sensing and field survey analysis has shown that there are canals, there are causeways, and people who live there eat corn and hunt and fish.

Although it has been established that people once lived there, little is known about aspects such as the civic ceremonial buildings at the main site and the understanding of the regional organization of the Kasarabe cultural settlement.

▲ Picture from: "Nature"

To learn more about the people and civilizations that once existed on this land, scientists used lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) from a helicopter from high altitude to map six areas where major settlements are known to be concentrated.

If viewed from the air with the naked eye, the dense jungle canopy would obscure the ground conditions, but lidar can pass through these trees to "present" the past.

▲ Picture from: "Nature"

Two large settlements, Cotoca (approximately 147 hectares) and Landívar (approximately 315 hectares), are known, but their exact size and architectural details require the aid of lidar surveys.

Combining the obtained lidar data with previous archaeological surveys and remote sensing data shows that these large settlements have some ceremonial buildings, including stepped platforms with U-shaped structures at the top, rectangular platform mounds and conical pyramid-shaped buildings Wait. There are artificial terraces and platform buildings in the core area of ​​the Landívar site.

Both large settlements are surrounded by three concentric defensive structures consisting of moats and walls, with an average of 10 sites within a 10 km radius of each settlement, which are spatially distributed by causeways and canals connect to form clusters.

▲ Picture from: "Nature"

Cotoca's central role as a major site is also highlighted by a system of canals and causeways that radiate from the base platform in all major directions. A seven-kilometer canal that brings water to Cotoca from elsewhere is indicative of the scale of man-made landscape management and mobilization of labor.

▲ Picture from: "Nature"

By analyzing information and data from lidar, the scientists involved in the study believe that the settlement pattern of the Kasarabe culture represents a tropical low-density urban approach that uses the scale involved in building civic ceremonial buildings and water management infrastructure , monumentality, labor, and the spatial extent of the dispersion of settlements is comparable to Andean culture.

▲ Picture from: "Nature"

Although we still don’t know what happened in the Kasarabe Cultural Area, which made this land desolate, we will still need to use manpower for exploration in the future.

However, the changes brought by lidar to archaeological work have been highlighted. In addition to the new discoveries in the Kasarabe cultural area, the ancient Mayan city of Tikal also used lidar for mapping, through which to discover those hard to see with the naked eye. , can bring the past more complete to the present.

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