Lost cities of the Amazon have finally been uncovered

The legends of the Amazon rainforest have circulated for centuries. Now, though, scientists have finally…

The legends of the Amazon rainforest have circulated for centuries. Now, though, scientists have finally discovered proof that these massive urban centers actually existed. Researchers published a new study in the journal Nature detailing lidar imaging of the Amazon. Within the forest’s deep, thick regions, they discovered evidence of the lost cities of the Amazon.

Scientists just uncovered proof that the lost cities of the Amazon actually exist

Image source: Nature / H. Prümers

The allure of hidden cities in the Amazon has been a cornerstone of exploration for centuries. In earlier years, the search for the promised city of El Dorado, a city of pure gold, lured many Spanish explorers into the wilds. And, we’ve seen other explorers fall subject to the whispered rumors of ancient cities like the Lost City of Z.

But now, a new twist in the story has appeared. What was once assumed to have simply been legend is now being proven true. Thanks to lidar imaging, a group of scientists were able to see through the thick canopies of the Amazon. And underneath all of those trees, they found the remains of a sprawling urban center.

But this isn’t just any lost city in the Amazon, of course. The city that scientists uncovered belonged to the socially complex Casarabe Culture. This culture existed between 500 – 1400 C.E., and they lived in urban centers boasting “monumental platform and pyramid architecture”, according to the Smithsonian Magazine.

A wilderness of civilization

lost cities in amazon showcased by lidar
Two large settlements as mapped by lidar. Image source: Nature / H. Prümers

Despite being as wild as it is, the Amazon could have been a heavily populated and urbanized region, the scientists say. They believe the imaging shows evidence of raised causeways that connected different settlements. Further, those settlements are believed to have stretched miles throughout the Amazon.

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But the authentication of lost cities in the Amazon isn’t the end of the story. Because light-based remote sensing technology (lidar) has proven so effective, it could allow us to search more of the Amazon without having to actually go inside. Of course, confirming those findings will still require us to physically explore the Amazon.

However, because we already know where the civilizations are, it will be easier to navigate and explore them. Ultimately, this discovery is an expansion of a story that has been growing for centuries. And, with this chapter now begun, perhaps we’ll be able to explore the Amazon rainforest in greater detail.

In fact, one of the authors of the findings says that he expects the next 10 to 20 years to bring the discovery of more lost cities of the Amazon. And, that some will be even bigger than the one outlined in the latest paper.