Thinking of the Amazon jungle is thinking of the vastness of untouched nature, but modern deforestation is not only threatening this ecosystem it is also destroying our previous idea of a pristine environment, uncovering an unknown past of human activity in the heart of the forest.

Archaeologists from Brazil and England discovered hundreds of man-made geoglyphs scattered on an area of 13,000 km2 built by the indigenous people long before europeans arrived in the region. This structures were probably used sporadically as ritual gathering places.

They also discovered that humans heavily modified the forest and small temporary clearings were made to build the geoglyphs and to harvest valuable tree species. This proves that the forests were managed for millennia and they were able to recover to such degree that until now we thought of it as virgin lands.

Although, as Dr Jennifer Watling leader of the research team, stated: “Despite the huge number and density of geoglyph sites in the region, we can be certain that Acre’s forests were never cleared as extensively, or for as long, as they have been in recent years".

This means that yes, we should forget the romantic idea of an untouched Amazon jungle. Today’s scale of human activity is something never seen before in history and this lands may never recover from current destruction.

Source: University of Exeter

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