Research press release



Archaeology: Uncovering ancient Amazonian architecture



今回、Heiko Prümersたちは、カサラベ文化圏に属するボリビアのアマゾン川流域のリャノス・デ・モホスの4500平方キロメートルの地域内で、6つの区域を調べた。Prümersたちは、LiDAR(光検出・測距)と呼ばれる技術を用いて、密集した植生をバーチャルに「こすり落とし」て、林冠の下にある土地と考古学的遺跡を可視化した。その結果、2か所の大型集落(コトカ、ランディヴァル)の遺跡と、24か所のそれより小規模な集落の遺跡が発見された。このうち、以前から存在が知られていたのは15か所だけだった。Prümersたちは、盛り土による基礎平場のサイズ、その上に配置された建造物、用水路・貯水池システムなどの要素に基づいて、これらの遺跡を4階層に分類した。建造物には、U字形の構造物、盛り土による長方形の高台、最大22 メートルの高さの円錐ピラミッドが含まれていた。


The discovery of the archaeological remains of 11 previously unknown settlements of the Casarabe culture, which dates to around AD 500 to AD 1400, in south-west Amazonia are reported in a Nature paper. The findings represent a type of tropical low-density urbanism that was previously unknown in the Amazon, and suggest that western Amazonia was not as sparsely populated in pre-Hispanic times as previously thought.

Our understanding of the Casarabe culture, which developed between AD 500 and AD 1400 in Amazonia, has been restricted to evidence from a few isolated sites, as dense vegetation makes mapping tropical forests difficult. Therefore, our knowledge of the civic-ceremonial architecture of the major sites and of the regional organization of the Casarabe settlements has been limited.

Heiko Prümers and colleagues examined six areas within a 4,500-km2 region of the Llanos de Mojos, Bolivian Amazon, that belonged to the Casarabe culture. The authors used a technique called lidar (light detection and ranging), which allowed them to virtually ‘scrub away’ the dense vegetation to visualize the land and archaeology underneath the forest canopy. They found two large settlement sites, named Cotoca and Landívar, and 24 smaller sites, of which only 15 were previously known to exist. The authors generated a four-tiered hierarchical classification of the sites, based on factors such as the size of their earth platforms, the architecture on top of them and their canals and water reservoir systems. The structures included U-shaped structures, rectangular platform mounds and conical pyramids up to 22 metres tall.

The findings challenge current understandings of the pre-Hispanic history of Amazonia and improve our knowledge of ancient tropical civilizations in the Amazon.

doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04780-4

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