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Researchers trace urbanism in Amazon

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  • Researchers trace urbanism in Amazon

    Researchers trace urbanism in Amazon
    Sat, 30 Aug 2008 11:31:35 GMT
    <table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="200"> <tbody><tr><td>
    </td></tr> </tbody></table> Researchers say a remote area of the Amazon River basin in west Brazil once witnessed traces of human activity and populated towns.

    The Upper Xingu, thought to be the virgin forest, shows traces of grid-like settlement patterns connected by road networks and arranged around large central plazas.

    Researchers also detected signs of dams and artificial ponds, open areas, large compost heaps, farming, wetland management, and fish farms, BBC reported.

    Settlements were surrounded by large walls and each community had an identical road, pointing northeast to southwest and connected to a central plaza.

    "These are not cities, but this is urbanism, built around towns," said Professor Mike Heckenberger, from the University of Florida, in Gainesville.

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

    According to the Science journal, the 15th century settlements date back to the time before the first Europeans came to the Upper Xingu region.

    Researchers mapped the settlements with satellite images and GPS navigation. They also unearthed pottery shards, earthworks and 'dark earth', which indicates past human waste dumps or farming.