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"Pristine" Amazonian Region Hosted Large, Urban Civilization - UPDATES

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Author Topic: "Pristine" Amazonian Region Hosted Large, Urban Civilization - UPDATES  (Read 1362 times)
Bianca
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« on: September 26, 2008, 09:09:18 am »











                               'Pristine' Amazonian Region Hosted Large, Urban Civilization







ScienceDaily
(Aug. 29, 2008)

— They aren't the lost cities early explorers sought fruitlessly to discover.

But ancient settlements in the Amazon, now almost entirely obscured by tropical forest, were once large and complex enough to be considered "urban" as the term is commonly applied to both medieval European and ancient Greek communities.

So says a paper set to appear August 28 in Science co-authored by anthropologists from the University of Florida and Brazil, and a member of the Kuikuro, an indigenous Amazonian people who are the descendants of the settlements' original inhabitants.

"If we look at your average medieval town or your average Greek polis, most are about the scale of those we find in this part of the Amazon," said Mike Heckenberger, a UF professor of anthropology and the lead author of the paper. "Only the ones we find are much more complicated in terms of their planning."

The paper also argues that the size and scale of the settlements in the southern Amazon in North Central Brazil means that what many scientists have considered virgin tropical forests are in fact heavily influenced by historic human activity. Not only that, but the settlements – consisting of networks of walled towns and smaller villages, each organized around a central plaza – suggest future solutions for supporting the indigenous population in Brazil's state of Mato Grosso and other regions of the Amazon, the paper says.

"Some of the practices that these folks hammered may provide alternative forms of understanding how to do low level sustainable development today," Heckenberger said.

Heckenberger and his colleagues first announced the discovery of the settlements in a 2003 Science paper. The largest date from around 1250 to 1650, when European colonists and the diseases they brought likely killed most of their inhabitants.

The communities are now almost entirely overgrown. But Heckenberger said that members of the Kuikuro, a Xinguano tribe that calls the region home, are adept at identifying telltale landscape features that reveal ancient activity. These include, for example, "dark earth" that indicate past human waste dumps or farming, concentrations of pottery shards and earthworks. Also assisted by satellite imagery and GPS technology, the researchers spent more than a decade uncovering and mapping the obscured communities.

The new paper reports that the settlements consisted of clusters of 150-acre towns and smaller villages organized in spread out "galactic" patterns.

None of the large towns was as large as the largest medieval or Greek towns. But as with those towns, the Amazonian ones were surrounded by large walls – in their case, composed of earthworks still extant today. Among other repeated features, each Amazonian settlement had an identical formal road, always oriented northeast to southwest in keeping with the mid-year summer solstice, connected to a central plaza.

The careful placement of the like-oriented settlements is indicative of the regional planning and political organization that are hallmarks of urban society, Heckenberger said.

"These are not cities, but this is urbanism, built around towns," he said.

The findings are important because they contradict long-held stereotypes about early Western versus early New World settlements that rest on the idea that "if you find it in Europe, it's a city. If you find it somewhere else, it has to be something else," Heckenberger said.

"They have quite remarkable planning and self-organization, more so than many classical examples of what people would call urbanism," he said.

But the research is also important because it means at least one area of "pristine" Amazon has a history of human activity. That could change not only how scientists assess the flora and fauna, but also how conservationists approach preserving the remains of forest so heavily cleared it is the world's largest soybean producing area. "This throws a wrench in all the models suggesting we are looking at primordial biodiversity," Heckenberger said.

Around the communities the scientists found dams and artificial ponds that indicate inhabitants farmed fish near their homes. They also found the remnants of open areas and large compost heaps suggesting widespread near-town cultivation.

The research has been funded by the National Science Foundation.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adapted from materials provided by University of Florida.
Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:
 APA

 MLA University of Florida (2008, August 29). 'Pristine' Amazonian Region Hosted Large, Urban Civilization. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 26, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/08/080828162554.htm
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« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2008, 09:11:06 am »




               


Picture from a low-flying airplane as it passes over the current Kuikuro village, demonstrating the circular-plaza village structure that has historically been and remains a primary cultural trait of urban construction.

(Credit:
Image courtesy of

University of Florida)
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2009, 08:53:14 am »

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                             PHOTO IN THE NEWS: "Uncontacted" Tribe Seen in Amazon






« on: May 30, 2008, 11:42:09 pm » Quote 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PHOTO IN THE NEWS: "Uncontacted" Tribe Seen in Amazon

May 30, 2008—In a palm-hut encampment, members of an "uncontacted" Amazon tribe fire arrows at an airplane above the rain forest borderlands of Peru and Brazil earlier this month. The black and red dyes covering their bodies are made from crushed seeds and are believed to signal aggression, native-rights experts say.





Released yesterday, the photo—one of several—was taken by officials from Brazil's National Indian Foundation (FUNAI).

Peruvian officials and energy interests have publicly expressed doubt that uncontacted tribes exist in the Amazon. (See "Oil Exploration in Amazon Threatens 'Unseen' Tribes" [March 21, 2008].)

But the new photos are more proof that uncontacted, seminomadic tribes do exist in the increasingly threatened Amazon rain forest, according to Survival International, an international indigenous-rights group that works closely with FUNAI.

"We are very confident the photos are genuine," said Miriam Ross, a spokesperson for Survival International, which estimates that half of the hundred or so uncontacted tribes in the world live in the rain forests of Brazil and Peru.

Some experts say few, if any, tribes have had no outside contact. It's more likely is that previous generations had negative encounters, prompting social taboos that continue to drive clans deeper into isolation.

Due to their vulnerable immune systems, these groups are highly susceptible to diseases borne by outsiders such as missionaries, loggers, or oil workers.

The new photos come just months after a similar one (see photo) captured apparently uncontacted natives collecting turtle eggs by a riverbank in the Peruvian Amazon, where energy development and illegal logging are on the rise.



http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/05/080530-uncontacted-tribes-photo.html
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2009, 08:59:49 am »



Members of an unknown Amazon Basin tribe and their dwellings
are seen during a flight over the Brazilian state of Acre along
the border with Peru in this May, 2008 photo distributed by

FUNAI, the government agency for the protection of
indigenous peoples.

REUTERS/Funai-Frente de Prote







                                                    Photo of Amazon Tribe Not a Hoax






Robin Lloyd
Senior Editor
LiveScience.com
June 24, 2008

Recent photos of an "uncontacted tribe" of Indians near the Brazil-Peru border have sparked media reports of a hoax, but the organization that released the images defends its claims and actions.
 
The photographs, which showed men painted red and black and aiming arrows skyward, were released in late May by Survival International, a London-based organization that advocates for tribal people worldwide. The release stated that "members of one of the world's last uncontacted tribes have been spotted and photographed from the air," and quoted the Brazilian government photographer saying, "there are some who doubt [the tribe's] existence" as justification for flying over the site and taking the pictures.


Some of the media published the images at the time with stories saying the tribe previously had been "lost." In fact, a LiveScience column stated that the tribe had "escaped discovery" until the new photos came out.


This week, suspicions about the organization's motivations and the authenticity of the scene were raised. On June 22, The Observer, a London-based newspaper, ran a story, "Secret of the 'lost' tribe that wasn't," saying that the tribe's existence "has been noted since 1910." A succession of other stories followed on the Web, claiming that reports of the tribe's discovery were a hoax.
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2009, 09:01:20 am »










No hoax



Today, Survival International released a statement to try to clarify things, including: "The story is not a hoax, and none of those involved in working to protect these Indians' rights have ever claimed they were 'undiscovered.'"


Survival never claimed that the tribe was lost. The story got out of control, says Fiona Watson, Survival's Brazil expert, as a result of irresponsible reporting.


"Some of the media got very carried away and started talking about undiscovered tribes," Watson told LiveScience. "There was this interpretation that this was a completely new tribe, completely undiscovered, without bothering to check with sources. Neither the Brazilian government nor Survival has ever used that word, and 'uncontacted' means they don't have any contact with outsiders."


Survival International's Web site includes a page about "uncontacted tribes," here, which states that more than 100 uncontacted tribes are known worldwide, with more than half living in either Brazil or Peru. These tribes, "whilst not 'lost,' simply reject contact with the outside world," according to Survival's statement today.


Survival campaigns to protect the tribes' land.


The recently photographed tribe might have had contact with neighboring tribal groups, Watson said, adding, "We don't know. They almost certainly know about the outside world. We mean 'having no physical contact,' living in a very isolated way in the Amazon."


"Flying over in an airplane doesn't constitute contact," she said.


The Observer journalist failed to do his homework, Watson said. If he had, "he would have seen that we've been talking about the existence of the tribe for some time now. Of course we know they are there, but there has been no contact," Watson said. 
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2009, 09:03:18 am »










Respecting rights



Watson agreed that the Brazilian government has known about the tribe since 1910, and said the government has had a policy of no contact with the tribe since 1988 in an effort to protect them from illnesses.


"It's about respecting their rights to live their lives as they want to, letting them get on with their lives," she said. "In 20 years, they may decide they do want to come out of the forest, but that's for them to decide. It's about protecting the land and letting them live as they wish to."


The photos were taken to prove to the Peruvian government that the Brazilian tribe exists because there have been challenges controlling illegal logging near the border and the logging might be pushing Peruvian tribes into Brazil and into conflict over resources with Brazilian tribes, Watson said.


The photos have had a positive effect already, she said. The Peruvian government has since "formed a commission of experts to look into the illegal logging and into the status of the uncontacted groups on the Peru side," Watson said.

And would Survival International do anything differently with the recent photo campaign, if they had it to do over?

"Nope," said Survival's Miriam Ross. 
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2009, 09:04:27 am »











                                           Leave Amazon tribe alone, Brazil says






Posted Sat May 31, 2008


 
Survival International says the photos disprove Peruvian claims that the land is vacant
(www.survival-international.org: Gleison Miranda/FUNAI)



Brazilian officials have taken photos of the isolated tribe living on the border between Brazil and Peru.

The Government says it released the photos to prove the existence of the tribe and to protect the tribe's land from illegal logging.

Fiona Watson from the indigenous rights group, Survival International, says the photos disprove Peruvian claims that the land is vacant.

The group says the discovery highlights the danger that encroaching civilisation poses to the Amazon.

"These people are very fearful, they've got their bows and arrows, they're shooting up at the plane," she said.

"They clearly want to be left alone. For these people to survive they must have their land rights recognised and protected."

One of the pictures can be seen on Survival International's website, which shows two Indian men covered in bright red pigment poised to fire arrows at the aircraft while another Indian looks on.

Another photo shows about 15 Indians near thatched huts, some of them also preparing to fire arrows at the aircraft.

"The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct," Survival International director Stephen Corry said.

Brazil's National Indian Foundation, which took the photographs, says illegal loggers from Peru are encroaching on the territory of remote tribes, and is hoping the publicity can help prevent invasions of their land.

Anthropologist Jose Carlos Meireles says any contact would be a last resort.

"Making contact with them would be our last alternative," he said.

"We'd only make contact with them if they're threatened, so, in that case it would no longer be considering contacting them - it would be rescuing them."

Of more than 100 un-contacted tribes worldwide, more than half live in either Brazil or Peru, Survival International says.



- BBC/Reuters
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2009, 09:06:45 am »










                                                Uncontacted tribe photos no hoax






24 June 2008

The British newspaper The Observer claimed on 22 June that it has now ‘emerged’ that the uncontacted tribe whose photos received worldwide publicity were neither ‘lost’, nor 'undiscovered' nor ‘unknown’.

Other newspapers that have picked up the article have gone further and said that the story was a ‘hoax’.

The story is not a hoax, and none of those involved in working to protect these Indians’ rights have ever claimed they were ‘undiscovered’.

In response to the allegations, Survival International’s director Stephen Corry today issued the following statement:

‘The Observer article claims to ‘reveal’ that the tribe photographed was neither ‘lost’ nor ‘unknown’. The reality is that neither Survival nor the Brazilian government claimed they were:

• When Survival published the photos, we quoted José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles, the Brazilian official who released them, saying, ‘We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there…’ As Mr Meirelles said when the Brazilian government released the photos, the Indians’ territory has been monitored for twenty years.

• These Indians are in a reserve expressly set aside for the protection of uncontacted tribes: they were hardly ‘unknown’!

• A glance at Survival’s publications would also ‘reveal’ that we have been campaigning for the protection of the uncontacted Indians of this region for more than twenty years.

‘What is, and remains, true, is that so far as is known these Indians have no peaceful contact with outsiders. The publication of the pictures has pushed the Peruvian government into investigating their plight, a huge step forward given that just a few months ago Peru’s President publicly questioned whether uncontacted Indians exist at all.

‘This latest controversy reveals more about media attitudes than it does about isolated tribal peoples. Some journalists apparently don’t want to recognise that there are in fact many uncontacted tribes around the world – we estimate about 100 – which, whilst not ‘lost’, simply reject contact with the outside world. Given the massacres and atrocities so many of them have experienced, it’s a perfectly sensible attitude.’




For further information please contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email mr@survival-international.org


Read Survival's press release of 29 May about the photographs

Read the statement from FUNAI (the Brazilian government's Indian Affairs department) of 29 May

Watch Survival's short film ‘Uncontacted Tribes’



Act now to help the Uncontacted Indians

Your efforts are crucial in defending the Uncontacted Tribes. Get involved in this urgent effort in the following ways.

Writing a letter to the Peruvian government can make a real difference.

Donate to the Uncontacted Indians campaign (and other Survival campaigns).

Write to your MP or MEP (UK) or Senators and members of Congress (US).
 
Write to your local Peruvian embassy.

If you want to get more involved, contact Survival



(www.survival-international.org: Gleison Miranda/FUNAI)
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2009, 09:08:11 am »



The Indians pictured are of the Matis tribe, of the Yavarí Valley in Brazil.
They bear many cultural and linguistic similarities to other tribes in Peru








                                                    New Tribe Spotted in Peruvian Amazon!





October 4, 2007
From BBC News

A previously unknown indigenous group living in isolation has been found deep in Peru’s Amazon jungle, a team of ecologists has said. The ecologists spotted the 21 Indians near the Brazilian border as they flew overhead looking for illegal loggers.

The group was photographed and filmed from the air on the banks of the Las Piedras River in Peru’s south-eastern Amazon region.

A government official who was on the flight said there were three palm huts on the river bank.

“We’ve found five other sites with this kind of shelter along the same river,” Ricardo Hon told Associated Press news agency.

__________

Get more info from the original article at BBC News.–While you’re there, make a point to check out the links to other articles about Peruvian Indians in the news. The links can be found at the top of the right-hand column.

Find an INCREDIBLE resource for information on Native Amazonian tribes (including maps, photos*, videos, illustrations of different ceremonies- like the ‘Poison Frog Ceremony’- and MUCH more!) at

www.Amazon-Indians.org,
www.Matses.info, and
www.Amazonz.info.


*please be aware that there is ‘National Geographic’ style nudity in the photos at these sites. These are native Natives.



Photo credit: Amazon-Indians.org, with many thanks! The Indians pictured are of the Matis tribe, of the Yavarí Valley in Brazil. They bear many cultural and linguistic similarities to other tribes in Peru. You can find out more about that at the site.
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2009, 09:09:37 am »









                                      Ancient Tribes and Modern Civilization Don't Mix






Christopher Wanjek
LiveScience's
Bad Medicine Columnist
LiveScience.com
Tue Jul 1, 2008
 
Arial photographs released in May by the Brazilian government of an "uncontacted" tribe deep in the Amazon
have generated a sense of wonderment back here in civilization.   Even today, in this age of computers and globalization, there still exists groups of humans living as their ancestors have lived, basically unchanged for thousands of years.
 
This tribe and similar ones in "Brazil" and particularly near the Brazilian and Peruvian "border" - words that
mean nothing to these people - have been known about but likely have had no contact with outside groups
for generations or perhaps ever.


And so, the society that has created Star Trek is asking, what do we do now?  Shall we teach them demo-
cracy and how to French kiss?


These indigenous Amazonian societies may seem alien, but theirs is a life much like ours, with joy and sorrow, comfort and hardship, pleasure and pain. 


The biggest health misconception is that we, with our modern technology, can improve their quality of life. 
This has rarely been true.  Nearly every encounter between an indigenous group and so-called modern
society has been disastrous for the former.





Playing Adam and Eve


But first, another misconception:  that life in the Amazon is a Garden of Eden, where innocent natives lie
around in hammocks all day as food falls from trees and into their bowls. 


Like the biblical Garden, there are indeed snakes, many of which are deadly.  There are also various in-
fectious diseases that prevent many babies from growing into adults and that prevent many adults from
living past age 60.


But even Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy can't improve their health.  Interaction with outside groups inevita-
bly brings foreign diseases, a loss of culture, depression and a decrease in the quality of life and life ex-
pectancy.


Change, for these people, is far deadlier than yellow fever or other dangers of the rain forest. 
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2009, 09:10:48 am »









Happy Columbus Day


The results of Europe's conquest of the Americas are well known.  Nearly 90 percent of the indigenous
populations were wiped out, often by wholesale slaughter but mostly through the introduction of disease
and subsequent despair.


By the 20th century, however, the threat faced by indigenous populations became more insidious - a life
devoid of life.  One can witness this today on many Native American reservations in the United States
and Canada, with epidemic levels of depression, suicide, alcoholism and diabetes, a disease that never
existed in these cultures before the introduction of the white man with his white sugar and white bread.


In Australia, Aborigines forced to resettle live ten years less on average than those still living on their native homelands and up to 20 years less than non-indigenous Australians, according to data compiled by Survival International, a UK-based group advocating for indigenous peoples.


As with Native Americans and, for that matter, many of the populations in the South Pacific Islands, Aborigines
are faced with astonishingly high rates of diabetes - as high as 50 percent in some communities - along with
the depression that comes from a loss of culture and livelihood. 





Primitive understanding


Clashes with natives live on today in Southeast Asia and the Amazon, where within the last 50 years almost
every encounter has brought a sharp decline in the length and quality of life.  Threats to these populations
include loggers, who lay barren their land, and evangelists, who perhaps with good intentions eradicate their culture.


Whose life is better - theirs or ours - can never be determined, for the answer is subjective.  We have real
joys, such as the ability to travel and learn about the world.  They have joys we cannot comprehend.

The "uncontacted" tribes of the Amazon are not primitive; it takes an advanced culture to survive in this
dangerous natural terrain.  The only thing primitive is our notion that what we have is better and needs
to be forced upon them. 
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 09:20:19 am »

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    Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network
« on: August 30, 2008, 02:42:53 am » Quote 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network






John Roach
for National Geographic News
August 28, 2008

Dozens of ancient, densely packed, towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced today.

The finding suggests that vast swathes of "pristine" rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists.

"It is very different from what we might expect using certain classic models of urbanism," noted study co-author Michael Heckenberger, an anthropologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Nevertheless, he said, the repeated patterns within and among settlements across the landscape suggest a highly ordered and planned society on par with any medieval European town.

The finding supports a controversial theory that the Amazon River Basin teemed with large societies that were all but obliterated by disease when European colonists arrived in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The isolated tribes that remain in the Amazon today are the last survivors of these once great societies, according to the theory.

(Related story: "'Uncontacted' Amazon Tribe Actually Known for Decades" [June 19, 2008])

If this theory is correct, the networked structure of the ancient settlements may lend insight to better protect and manage the indigenous populations and forests that remain in the Amazon today, scientists said.

Heckenberger and his colleagues from the U.S. and Brazil—including a member of the Kuikuro, an indigenous Amazonian tribe—report their finding today in the journal Science.

Urban Plan

In 1993, Heckenberger lived with the Kuikuro near the headwaters of the Xingu River. Within two weeks of his stay, he learned about the ancient settlements and began a 15-year effort to study and map them in detail.

So far he has identified at least two major clusters—or polities—of towns, villages, and hamlets. Each cluster contains a central seat of ritualistic power with wide roads radiating out to other communities.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/08/080828-amazon-cities.html?source=rss
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2009, 09:21:25 am »

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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2009, 09:24:20 am »









Lines mapped from village earthworks radiate outward from the central power seat in the southernmost of two recently identified clusters of ancient Amazon towns.

Dozens of densely packed, pre-Columbian towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced in late August 2008.

Map courtesy Science/AAAS

Each settlement is organized around a central plaza and linked to others via precisely placed roads. In their heyday, some of the settlements were home to perhaps thousands of people and were about 150 acres (61 hectares) in size.

A major road aligned with the summer solstice intersects each central plaza.


The larger towns, placed at cardinal points from the central seat of power, were walled much like a medieval town, noted Heckenberger. Smaller villages and hamlets were less well defined.

Between the settlements, which today are almost completely overgrown, was a patchwork of agricultural fields for crops such as manioc along with dams and ponds likely used for fish farms.

"The whole landscape is almost like a latticework, the way it is gridded off," Heckenberger said. "The individual centers themselves are much less constructed. It is more patterned at the regional level."

At their height between A.D. 1250 and 1650, the clusters may have housed around 50,000 people, the scientists noted.

According to Heckenberger, the planned structure of these settlements is indicative of the regional planning and political organization that are hallmarks of urban society.

"These are far more planned at the regional level than your average medieval town," he said, noting that rural landscapes in medieval settlements were randomly oriented.

"Here things are oriented at the same angles and distances across the entire landscape."
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2009, 09:26:30 am »










"Garden Cities"



The research "raises huge and important questions," Susan Hecht, an Amazon specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, was quoted saying in a related Science news piece written by Charles Mann.

Mann is the author of the 2005 book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, which describes theories of urban planning in the Amazon.

For one, Hecht was quoted as saying, the research adds further weight to the idea that the Amazon Basin once supported large and complex societies.

Other scientists, notably archaeologist Betty Meggers at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., have argued that Amazonian soils were too poor to support large human populations for extended periods.

Hecht said the research also challenges the idea that urbanism means a central, dominant, and powerful city. Smaller, but highly connected settlements may also have been common.

According to study co-author Heckenberger, the clusters of towns in the pre-Columbian Amazon were similar to the system envisioned by British planner Ebenezer Howard in his 1902 book, Garden Cities of Tomorrow.

Howard argued for a system of tightly linked smaller cities instead of large megacities that are an eyesore on the natural world.

"If [he] knew about Xingu, it would have been a chapter in his book," Heckenberger said.

And now that the Amazonian "garden cities" have been found, Heckenberger added, scientists and planners ought to study them closely for alternatives to the modern system that is destroying vast reaches of the Amazon and displacing the last of the region's indigenous tribes.

"We know that we have to come up with alternatives," he said, "so here is a place we may want to look."
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