Archaeologists have found that more than 10 thousand years ago the inhabitants of the plains of the Llanos de Mochos in the Amazon bred some crops (pumpkin, cassava, corn) and may have grown artificial forest. Article published in the journal Nature.
Llanos de Mochos — a vast plain in the North of Bolivia, is covered with grasslands and abundant rivers. It has preserved many traces of development in antiquity, including man-made hills, canals and dams. On the plains there are small (usually less than one hectare) Islands of forest, many of which, as long assumed by scientists to have an artificial origin.
From this region there are many important crops, including manioc, pumpkin, squash, peach palm and canavalia, and chili. This suggests that the South-Western Amazonia was the same ancient center of agriculture (the place where they were first domesticated many plants), as the middle East (wheat), China (rice), southwestern Mexico (corn) and Central America (potatoes).
A group of scientists under the leadership of Umberto Lombardo (Lombardo Umberto) from the University of Bern from satellite imagery was mapped 6643 island forest on Llanos de Mochos and conducted archaeological research 82 of them. In 64 cases they found traces of fertilizers, charcoal and burnt earth — evidence that the soil in which forests grew, artificially cultivated. By extrapolation, the researchers came to the conclusion that at least 4700 forest Islands in the Llanos de Mochos are artificial in origin.
Findings of the 31 scientists excavation was dated by the radiocarbon method and found that the people cultivated the soil in the period 10850 2300 years ago.
Among the dated fossils were a sample of cassava, the age of about 10350 years, a sample of pumpkin squash, the age of about 10,250 years and the sample of corn by the age of about 6850 years. These Dating has allowed scientists to claim that the ancient inhabitants of the Amazon, domesticated squash in the same time with the inhabitants of other regions of South and Central America, and also worked on the domestication of corn and cassava. Regarding the latter, known archaeological evidence of its cultivation in Peru 8500 years ago in Panama by 7,600 years ago and in Colombia 7,000 years ago.
The question, as it appeared the forest at Llanos de Mochos, still not fully clarified. According to one version, they grew by themselves after the people left the tilled and fertilized soil. For another, people made the forest purposefully, to protect the soil from erosion and to be able, one day, after leaving the cultivated land, some time for him to return, burn the forest to resume the cultivation of crops.
In 2019, an international research project ArchaeoGLOBE published data about three thousand years ago, agriculture became a special factor influencing the formation of landscapes around the world.