A LiDAR image showing villages paid out like the rays of the Sun. Image Credit: J. Riarte / CAA.

Archaeologists Find Traces of an Advanced Ancient, Hitherto Unknown Civilization in the Amazon

This civilization built entire villages in the form of the sunshine rays. Some of these structures date back at least 1,000 years and there are some that could be even older.

Using remote surveys and technologies such as LiDAR, a group of researchers has identified traces of an advanced ancient civilization in the Amazon. 

This culture built dozens of villages interconnected with each other.

The villages were laid out resembling the rays of the sun and the cosmos, pointing towards a well-developed, advanced society.


The world beneath our feet is as amazing as that which we have built on the ground. For countless millennia, humankind has developed on the surface of the planet. Civilizations came and disappeared as history moved forward. Great cultures developed worldwide, and many of them lived long enough and developed technology to make sure that someone would find out about their existence long after they disappeared.

But some evidence is buried far too deep for us to see it. At least not with the naked eye. Thankfully, today’s scientists have at their disposal a plethora of tools that allow them to peer into the past like never before.

Advancements in the fields of archaeology have allowed experts to dig deeper, and better, as never before. Technologies such as LiDAR allow scientists to look for traces of ancient cultures in places that were off-limits until not long ago.

Previously, we reported on Curiosmos about ancient civilizations in Brazil, specifically the Amazon rainforest. We have also written amply about Brazil’s pyramids, ancient monuments that many experts in their respective fields consider the oldest remnants of pyramids on Earth, predating by several centuries the very first pyramid of Egypt, the Step Pyramid of Djoser.

It is believed that more than 5,000 years ago when the pyramid of Egypt was not even envisioned, an ancient, hitherto unknown culture erected pyramids in present-day Brazil. Experts estimate that the ancient pyramids in Brazil numbered thousands. Today, not many remain standing, mostly because, unlike their Egyptian counterparts, the Brazilian pyramids were built of “lesser” materials such as sand, clay, and seashells.

Through time, many eroded to the point they have become unrecognizable, confused on many occasions as mere natural hills, something that eventually led to the destruction of many pyramids.

People used the hills as construction material, destroying history thousands of years old. There is no way back, these pyramids are forever gone, and so are the traces of history left behind by the people who built them millennia ago.

However, Brazil has more to offer.

Traces of an Advanced Ancient, Hitherto Unknown Civilization

In fact, Amazon is an unexplored treasure trove of history. This region of Brazil has kept a secret for millennia–a secret that only now is being revealed thanks to the technology and persistency of archaeologists.

A few years ago, it was revealed by experts that deforestation of the Amazon–as well as climate change–has revealed the existence of previously unknown earthen mounds, strange geometric shapes, and indentations that have become clearly visible from the air, now that the trees are gone.

Further exploration of the Amazon has revealed the complexity of these structures.

With the help of remote helicopter-mounted laser scanners, archaeologists have been able to peer under the canopies of the Amazonian trees that remain, revealing previously undetected details of the structures on the ground; as it turns out, these buildings, monuments, and entire villages were built like clock faces.

In other words, the people that built these monuments thousands of years ago made sure that their villages would be specifically oriented, and this, as it turns out, was not a random feature.

As explained earlier, although experts had identified the structure in previous studies, the new research of the Amazonian topography has allowed experts to find out what these structures looked like on a wide scale. All of this was possible with data collected remotely and without the need for excavations.

A LiDAR scan of the Amazonian village. Image Credit: J. Riarte / CAA.
A LiDAR scan of the Amazonian village. Image Credit: J. Riarte / CAA.

LiDAR in the Amazon

LiDAR, as explained by NASA, stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.

Speaking about the discovery and the technology used to make it, Professor Jose Iriarte from the University of Exeter explained that “LiDAR has allowed us to detect these villages, and their features such as roads, which wasn’t possible before because most are not visible within the best satellite data available. The technology helps to show diverse and complex construction history of this part of the Amazon.”

Instead of physically exploring each mound, one by one, researchers used remotely-operated vehicles equipped with sensors to study the layout of the mounds from above. This allowed them to obtain a new point of view, allowing them to see entire villages as well as connections between the structures.

Their study revealed structures that were specifically oriented. The group of researchers wrote in their study that the “uniform spatial design of the mound villages, is likely a physical representation of the indigenous cosmos.”

In other words, the people built the structures specifically positioning them in order for the entire layout to mimic their idea of the cosmos.

This tells us that the builders of the villages had a well-developed idea of cosmology, and the study of the stars likely played an important role in their society.

In addition to the intricate position of the villages, LiDAR also helped researchers to uncover roads that expanded from the mound villages like rays of sunlight. Most of the villages showed two roads leading to the north and two to the south.

Some of the villages studied by researchers and revealed in the latest study are thought to have been constructed between 1,300 and 1,700 CE. Others, however, could date back several millennia, as revealed by experts in previous studies., like this paper published in the Journal Nature.

Curiously, it has also been revealed previously that around 10,000 years ago, ancient cultures terraformed the Amazon rainforest creating over 4,700 artificial forest islands. You can read more about the discovery in our article “Evidence of 10,000-year-old terraforming found in the Amazon Rainforest.”

I personally believe that many of these ancient structures–and perhaps even entire settlements–could date back further in time, and some of them could perhaps be even the very remnants of the pyramid building civilization that existed in the region more than 4,500 years ago.

Whatever the case, there seems to be so much more hidden in the Amazon than what we believed up until now.


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Sources and references: Mentioned in the article. 
Relevant links: University of Exeter / CAA

Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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