The vast Amazon rainforest in Ecuador has been the site of some fascinating discoveries, thanks to laser scanning technology. Researchers have uncovered the remnants of an unknown culture that built settlement centers and roads about 2,500 years ago. The ruins were found in the Upano valley at the foot of the Andes in the eastern part of Ecuador, and have been mapped from the air using laser scanning.
The findings of a study conducted in 2015 have only recently been published in Science, revealing the extent of these ruins. The results are comparable to those of more famous Mayan cities in Central America, and point to the existence of large, open-plan “garden cities”, with tens of thousands of people living in them. This challenges long-held assumptions that only small tribes of hunter-gatherers lived in the Amazon rainforest.
In fact, recent discoveries suggest that up to eight million people lived in the region before the arrival of Europeans. However, it is worth noting that these objects have been dated to more than 1,500 years old, indicating that they were abandoned before Europeans arrived. Possible causes for this abandonment include volcanic eruptions, as deposits of volcanic ash were found in the area.
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