Lost city found in Amazon may have housed 100,000 before being abandoned and reclaimed by rainforest

Originally published at: Ancient Amazon city may have housed 100,000


As suspicious as I am of population estimates in finds this early in their study, I can’t wait to get my hands on that paper. The straight streets fascinate me. To the best of my knowledge the civilizations in that area primarily transported by foot and that usually uses a more tightly packed housing set up. Oh I have so many questions and no one probably has answers to lots of them.



paywalled, unfortunately.


Some people are still puzzled how or why Mesoamerican cultures built entire empires with little or no apparent use of the wheel, but I think it’s mostly just a natural consequence of living somewhere that didn’t lend itself well to building roads.

Looking forward to learning about this city too!


I’d imagine a lack of draft animals other than llamas also played a role there.


This is what Atlanta’s going to look like in about 2000 years

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Seeing abandoned homes go from visible to invisible in just a few years If left to nature, I’d say less than that. Maybe.

@Brainspore and @moortaktheundea yes to both. They of course had wheels in some devices and children’s toys but not for transport. A lot of soft ground and a lot of hills (like Peru, good luck getting a wagon over those bridges!).

While the details of this find are new the general fact that the Amazon forest has grown over cities, towns, fields, villages, roads, canals etc. is not. This is where the huge population wiped out by disease and imperialism lived. The lack of draught animals as well as immunonaivety from not being in contact with Eurasian travel for thousands of years left them particularly vulnerable.

It should be chastening to remember when we think of how the Amazon is the lungs of the world that it used to be the farm of the Americas. Rewild the cities of Europe and Asia to save the world!


from this paper’s abstract:

Archaeological excavations date the occupation from around 500 BCE to between 300 and 600 CE. The most notable landscape feature is the complex road system extending over tens of kilometers, connecting the different urban centers, thus creating a regional-scale network.


As I was pointing out above though this is not new news that there were extensive towns, cities, etc connected by roads in what is now the Amazon forest. Sorry to keep on banging on about it but it’s fundamental to my understanding of the human ecology of our world. Just like how the bogs of Ireland were overfarmed in prehistory, or the deserts of the ancestral puebloans. What is now wasteland or wilderness was before the fertile centre of a culture. We can and have reformed the land for good and ill. We can again.

As I believe Samuel Becekett (and my) favourite quote from St Augustine goes” Despair not! One of the thieves was saved. Rejoice not! One of the thieves was damned.”

We are fucked. And we are very much not.


I have read about large.urban areas being located in the Brazilian part of the Amazon Basin but this new find is in Ecuador. I also thought the decimation from disease followed the Spanish arrival in the 1500’s when in a centuries time the indigenous population dropped by 90%… The Spanish invasion was only 500 some years ago. The newly discover city was long gone before the Spanish showed up.

Regarding the wheel in the Amazon basin the city of Iquitos, Peru has a population of 400,000 and is accessible only by boat or plane. The wheel is pretty useless in the Jungle. Viva la Selva!


The city could have fallen victim to diseases that weren’t brought by the Spanish. History has shown that if you let population density get too high before you invent reliable water and sewage systems you’re gonna have a bad time in terms of communicable disease outbreaks.

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An expedition in the Amazon that ended up with many of the scientists becoming seriously ill, and just why that happened.

There are lots of lost civilisations in the Americas whose demise long predates European imperialism.

Miight as well plug this book

Part of the book is a deconstruction of Lost City tropes, which affect both the archeologist

and the local inhabitants, who are ridiculed for losing their cultural patrimony, and must be helped by outsiders.


“Nearby Mayan”??? At the bare minimum, the site is some 2100 Km or so from the nearest Mayan site.

I mean, ok that for the US 100 Km is near, but 2000 and quite a bit is a bit too much.

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