Lost Cities Were Unearthed in Ecuador and It’s Changing the Way Researchers View the Americas 

Lost Cities Are Unearthed in Ecuador and It’s Changing the Way Researchers View the Americas 

Something amazing happened recently. Researchers employing laser scanning technology have unveiled the remnants of ancient cities dating back 2,500 years in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. This discovery, chronicled as the oldest and largest of its kind in the region, has exposed a sophisticated network of farmland and roads that challenges previous assumptions about the Amazon’s historical landscape. 

The findings, published in the journal Science, pinpoint the extensive pre-Hispanic structures nestled in the Upano Valley of Ecuador, within the eastern foothills of the Andes mountains. Although over two decades of research laid the groundwork for this discovery, it was the implementation of lidar —a remote sensing technology employing lasers—, which was enforced by the Ecuadorian government that truly illuminated the scope of these ancient urban centers. 

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, archaeologist Stéphen Rostain, the lead author of the study and director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), expressed the transformative impact of lidar technology on their understanding of the site. He stated to Live Science, “On foot, you have trees in the way, and it’s difficult to see what’s actually hidden there.” 

The lidar survey, covering approximately 300 square kilometers, unearthed over 6,000 rectangular earthen platforms, agricultural terraces, and drainage systems, collectively forming at least 15 distinct settlements, as per researchers.  

The researchers estimate that these ancient structures were occupied by people from the Kilamope and Upano cultures between 500 B.C.E. and 300 to 600 C.E., primarily engaged in agriculture, cultivating crops like corn and sweet potatoes. 

Beyond Ecuador, What Can Lidar Technology Show the World?

Lidar technology has proven instrumental in shedding light on ancient Amazonian civilizations. By bypassing the dense forest canopy, lidar facilitates the creation of accurate maps in a fraction of the time, enabling researchers to uncover pre-Hispanic settlements in various parts of the Amazon, including Bolivia, Brazil, and Belize. 

Our Latin American Indigenous ancestors were brilliant and it’s time for the world to learn about their potential.  

Imagine what else researchers can uncover using this technology. 

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