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Earth Idle

Hundreds of Stonehenge-Like Monuments Found In The Amazon Rainforest (yahoo.com) 147

turkeydance quotes The Telegraph: Hundreds of ancient earthworks resembling those at Stonehenge were built in the Amazon rainforest, scientists have discovered after flying drones over the area. The findings prove for the first time that prehistoric settlers in Brazil cleared large wooded areas to create huge enclosures meaning that the 'pristine' rainforest celebrated by ecologists is actually relatively new.
The researchers believe the monuments appeared roughly 2,000 years ago -- so after Stonehenge (by about 2,500 years). "It is thought they were used only sporadically," reports the BBC, "possibly as ritual gathering places similar to the Maya pyramids of Central America, or Britain's own Stonehenge."
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Hundreds of Stonehenge-Like Monuments Found In The Amazon Rainforest

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    But....ALIENS.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @10:52AM (#53845907) Homepage Journal

    Only the earthworks are visible. Seems somebody messed up on the units for the stones.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      If there were stones present at some point it's possible that subsequent generations found other uses for the raw material and broke them up and carted them off. Archeologists and Paleontologists could probably do the field work to support or refute this.

      Also kind of makes you wonder how quickly it would be hard to find evidence of human habitation in Europe if large portions of the continent had suffered population crashes and full abandonment during the Bronze Age. Hell, look at the way thirty years
      • There's a lot of speculation of that sort on a show called Life after People. Things do deteriorate quickly if not maintained.
        • There's a lot of speculation of that sort

          I thought this was a nerd's site. We need evidence, not speculation.

          (I have spent weeks as an unpaid volunteer on archaeological digs. Check for the presence of glass houses before throwing stones.)

      • Taking a walk around any of the hundreds of stone circles in Britain, or the West Atlantic coast (stretches from Shetland to Cadiz) cultural area will soon disabuse you of the idea that these things can disappear in just a few thousands of years. However, to steal a joke from a 1950s satire about 1950s excavations near Stonehnge itself, "We used to have a Woodhenge here, but it rotted." The "wooden henge" in question (Durrington Walls) was contemporary with Stonehenge, but used multi-metre diameter posts (i
    • by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @11:53AM (#53846127) Homepage

      These structures resemble henges, which are defined as a circular earthwork with a ditch inside the earthwork. Most defensive earthworks have the raised bit inside the ditch so the defenders have higher ground while the attackers are left to scramble through the ditch and then try to climb the earthwork.

      Stonehenge is a henge with standing stones inside the ditch perimeter. It's a bad example to keep using as most people will keep thinking henges are the standing stone circle because of the name of the site.

      The Brits think the henges are ceremonial partly because of finds inside the henge and partly because it makes no defensive sense. Some chaps think it might be to keep the dead enclosed, i.e. the inside ditch keeps them from escaping and haunting the living.

      <fulldisclosure>I'm a Time Team fan</fulldisclosure>

      • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

        Or Stonehegnge could be the remnants of the foundation for a tall structure.

        Why do all ancient stone ruins *always* have to be called some kind of temple? chances are it served a much more mundane purpose?

        • No. Just no. Study some engineering. Those stones are, more or less, stood up on native ground. Foundations go deeper and are contiguous.

          • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

            For buildings we might build yes. You know, progress and all. But some of these structures are just massive, and could very well have held a larger wooden structure above it. Point is nobody knows and a hypothesis is 'merely' an educated guess. With truth being stranger than fiction, these things really could have served any number of purposes that were *not* religion-centric.

            • It could be, but people aren't simply assuming things here - they are deferring to experts who have exhaustively studied the sites. Contrarian views are very useful motivation in science, but mostly useless in amateur chat rooms. "Could" they be foundations or some other purpose? Sure, why not? Sounds like a good line of study. Without some evidence, however, it's just idle musings.

              More on-topic, look at the massive amount of resources people pour into religion... historically it is perhaps only rivaled by

              • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                look at the massive amount of resources people pour into religion... historically it is perhaps only rivaled by defense.

                Based on your argument all our major cities will be viewed as giant mecca's of religion. Which they clearly are not. I expect the subways would be the church of the underworld etc.

                It's only very recently that we've regularly created massive structures for purely secular use.

                Roleplay:
                5000k+ years ago we had massive structures built for purely secular purposes using 'green' technology. What would those ruins look like?

                • look at the massive amount of resources people pour into religion... historically it is perhaps only rivaled by defense.

                  Based on your argument all our major cities will be viewed as giant mecca's of religion. Which they clearly are not. I expect the subways would be the church of the underworld etc.

                  It's only very recently that we've regularly created massive structures for purely secular use.

                  Roleplay:
                  5000k+ years ago we had massive structures built for purely secular purposes using 'green' technology. What would those ruins look like?

                  It would depend on which alien race helped us make temples to aliens.

                  • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                    Assuming we hadn't had our own near-extinction level event in some time long past we are unaware of. It's possible, and there are certainly legends that would suggest that we have had greater technological levels in the past. It would be pure arrogance to think we are the first, and best iteration of the Human race.

                    • If you read the old Indian Vedas: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/ind... [wikipedia.org]
                      you get the impression that in ancient times a war with 'flying saucers', 'beam weapons' and 'nuclear war' heads was fought.
                      But why should our ancients not have SF stories already ...

                    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @09:05PM (#53848461)

                      It's not arrogance at all to refuse to make suppositions without sufficient evidence. We find no refined aluminum or titanium when we dig, and yet we cover most of the planet. We find no evidence that fossil fuels were previously tapped, despite being obvious and cheap sources of energy. Nothing has been found orbiting the planet of artificial origin, despite mapping everything down to baseball size. There is no radiological evidence that would suggest any kind of nuclear testing prior to the 1940s. What possible reason would we have to suspect that we are not the most technologically advanced apes to ever inhabit the planet?

                    • An English archaeologist is digging and finds some copper fragments. He concludes that the ancient Britons were very advanced for their time because they had a telephone system.

                      A French archaeologist is digging and finds some bits of glass. He concludes that the Gauls were even more advanced because they had fibre-optics.

                      A Scottish archaeologist is digging and finds nothing at all. He concludes that the Picts were the most advanced of all, as they all had satellite phones.

                    • Clearly the denizens of the golden age were houseproud and therefore (unlike the current bunch of scabby monkeys) tidied up after themselves.

                • all our major cities will be viewed as giant mecca's of religion

                  First of all, until very recently a "major city" was about 50,000 people. There were a few standouts, like Rome which probably had a million. Second, look at the buildings in those cities. Almost everything was made of wood or - in some places - mud. Except for the fortifications, palaces, and cathedrals... which is, of course, my thesis.

                  Roleplay:
                  5000k+ years ago we had massive structures built for purely secular purposes using 'green' technology. What would those ruins look like?

                  I'm not sure what you are asking. What secular purpose was there for massive structures 5000 years ago? (presuming you didn't really mean 5000k :) ) 5000 years ago there we

                • look at the massive amount of resources people pour into religion... historically it is perhaps only rivaled by defense.

                  Based on your argument all our major cities will be viewed as giant mecca's of religion. Which they clearly are not. I expect the subways would be the church of the underworld etc.

                  It's only very recently that we've regularly created massive structures for purely secular use.

                  Roleplay: 5000k+ years ago we had massive structures built for purely secular purposes using 'green' technology. What would those ruins look like?

                  http://sultanaeducation.org/wp... [sultanaeducation.org]

                • Roleplay:
                  5000k+ years ago we

                  By "we", do you mean the last common ancestors of us and chimpanzees, or do you men anatomically modern humans?

                  I suspect you mean 5kyr or 0.005Myr.

            • For buildings that stay up, yes.

              FTFY.

              You know, progress and all. But some of these structures are just massive, and could very well have held a larger wooden structure above it.

              I'm not a structural engineer, but it seems implausible.

              For one thing, how would you secure the upper wooden part to the stone base? It might be theoretically possible, but it'd just be easier to build the whole thing as one contiguous wooden structure - you know, like every wooden fort you've ever seen or heard of.

            • With truth being stranger than fiction, these things really could have served any number of purposes that were *not* religion-centric.

              Such as?

              Also, why is Stonehenge (but nothing else) built on much the same plan as a contemporary roundhouse? While the hundreds of other stone circles hardly even bear comparison with the foundations of a wigwam.

          • See my reply to GP about the observed foundations of Stonehenge.
        • If it was a bus station or a supermarket it's unlikely it would have be so ostentatiously and expensively constructed.

          For those who are wondering, this is probably why we find very few iron age bus stations & supermarkets (apart from the Co-Op in Barnsley).

          • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

            I was thinking more along the lines as the base of something multi-storied. Who knows, I am just tired of every ancient building made of stone referred to as a temple of some kind.

            The only thing about Human's that has really changed over the millennia is how fast we can kill each other. I imagine Human nature and behaviour to be much the same 10,000 years ago as 10 years ago. There has to be room for something with a more mundane purpose that has survived through the ages.

            Of the things we have today, what d

            • I was thinking more along the lines as the base of something multi-storied. Who knows, I am just tired of every ancient building made of stone referred to as a temple of some kind.

              The only thing about Human's that has really changed over the millennia is how fast we can kill each other. I imagine Human nature and behaviour to be much the same 10,000 years ago as 10 years ago. There has to be room for something with a more mundane purpose that has survived through the ages.

              Of course there were more mundane buildings than just temples and fortresses. But why would ancient hunters and farmers haul enormous stone blocks over many miles, just to make a really cool above-ground foundation for a discotheque?

              • for a discotheque?
                Why not? Probably all participants got a honour batch, or a a cool tattoo?
                Indian tribes in the south americas still have the habit to sent delegations to games and meetings/gatherings, sometimes the whole tribe goes. One reason might be 'mating rituals' as the majourity of the folk traveling with their tribe are in or just beyond puperty.

                When you live in a society where food is abundant you have to find some way to waste your time. Our ancestors or primitive tribes elsewhere, lacked techno

                • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                  but even simple things as the motion of stars/planets elude the average human now. Not even to talk about when and how to plant which fruit

                  I wish I could say you're wrong here, but for the most point I think that has to do greatly with the abundance of distraction that's available.

                  • One of my ex girl friends, not dumb per se, we separated when she was 37, did not even know that the sun rises in the east and is due south at noon and goes down in the west ....

                    I looked very long very disbelieving at her when she admitted that. Then she said: no one ever told me. Then I looked at the sky and rolled my eyes.

                    • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                      That's beyond comprehension. What kind of background was she raised with?

                    • One of my ex girl friends, not dumb per se, we separated when she was 37, did not even know that the sun rises in the east and is due south at noon and goes down in the west ....

                      I looked very long very disbelieving at her when she admitted that. Then she said: no one ever told me. Then I looked at the sky and rolled my eyes.

                      Then she picked up her white cane and her dog led her away.

                    • Yes it is beyond comprehension and I was rather shocked.
                      No idea what you mean with "background", she is Armenian, bourn in Turkey, immigrated to Germany with age of 4 or so, made "Abitur" here and studied at an university and went to Paris/France with age of something like 27.
                      She will be soon director of one of the most vanguard fashion design schools in Germany, a branch of a school from Paris.
                      Not a dumb girl (except for being so dumb to dump me :D ) ... but no clue of normal life "physics" or stuff.

                  • but even simple things as the motion of stars/planets elude the average human now. Not even to talk about when and how to plant which fruit

                    I wish I could say you're wrong here, but for the most point I think that has to do greatly with the abundance of distraction that's available.

                    Like the OP said, "When you live in a society where food is abundant you have to find some way to waste your time"

              • But why would ancient hunters and farmers haul enormous stone blocks over many miles, just to make a really cool above-ground foundation for a discotheque?

                The big stones 10-40 Mg) at Stonehenge were brought from the Marlborough Downs, about 20 miles away over hill and dale.

                You're probably thinking of the "bluestones", brought from the Prescili Mountains of Wales about 190km to the WNW. Average weight 1-2Mg. Big difference.

            • There has to be room for something with a more mundane purpose that has survived through the ages.

              But they don't. What are the main survivors from medieval times? Mostly castles & cathedrals. How about Roman times? It's largely military defences & temples too. Because things like that are over-engineered to a ludicrous degree, one because if it fails you're dead, the other because building it was an act of dedication that transcends normal cost/benefit analysis.

              Of the things we have today, wha

        • Or Stonehegnge could be the remnants of the foundation for a tall structure.

          Why do all ancient stone ruins *always* have to be called some kind of temple? chances are it served a much more mundane purpose?

          The First Law of Archaeology. Any object, construct, or behavior, the purpose of which we cannot discern, must be religious.

        • Hognoxious touches on this downthread.

          Or Stonehenge could be the remnants of the foundation for a tall structure.

          No. Or more precisely, it couldn't be any "building" more than a small fraction of the weight of the stones themselves.

          The stones of Stonehenge (and indeed, any of the other megalithic structures) are not just placed in holes dug into the soil. The soil is rarely even a metre thick on the Chalk downlands. This is not enough to support the weight of the stones, or to prevent them from tipping ove

      • One hypothesis was that these (Brit) structures were seen as 'stairway to the underworld' / '...to the stars' or omphalos-like as navel of the universe, a point where the world turned inside-out. So it made sense to defend against things that might emerge if the spells worked.
      • Worth mentioning it's not just Stonehenge, they're all over the place [selfstudyhistory.com].
      • The Brits think the henges are ceremonial partly because of finds inside the henge and partly because it makes no defensive sense.

        Also, typical henges have wide openings at two (sometimes four) points, with an unexcavated section of the line of the ditch and no bank. They were built without defensive structures. (Do casual reader realise that a typical henge ditch was cut 3 to 4 metres into the bedrock and the spoil piled up onto the surrounding bedrock to form the outer bank.) This is in contrast to the en

    • Only the earthworks are visible. Seems somebody messed up on the units for the stones.

      Much of what makes Stonehenge remarkable is simply the fact that is made of stone, other than that Stonehenge is not that much more special than other circular monuments in the UK and the rest of Europe. In fact there is a large number of circular monuments all over Europe that are as big or even bigger than Stonehenge. Most these circular neolithic monuments in Europe were actually wood 'henges' and there are literally hundreds of them that have been found in recent years all the way from Britain through G

    • Only the earthworks are visible. Seems somebody messed up on the units for the stones.

      I'll just leave this here. [youtube.com] Surprised it hasn't shown up sooner.

    • I can't believe no one caught the Spinal Tap reference here.

      Linky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • Which ecologists, specifically, are celebrating this? Please be specific and cite names.

  • If the former then we already know who designed them...
    • If the former then we already know who designed them...

      Smurfs? Gnomes? Fairies? Donald Trump? ('cause, you know, tiny hands...)

      *ba-dum* *tshhhh*

      Thank you, try the veal.

    • Spinal Tap.
    • If the former then we already know who designed them...

      We know that it wasn't Ian. He was given a napkin. Whether or not Nigel knew the difference between feet and inches was not his problem.

      • If the former then we already know who designed them...

        We know that it wasn't Ian. He was given a napkin. Whether or not Nigel knew the difference between feet and inches was not his problem.

        Went on to work at NASA. http://articles.latimes.com/19... [latimes.com]

  • by Hasaf ( 3744357 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @11:17AM (#53846009)

    The book 1492: The Year the World Began, by Felipe Fernández-Armesto, is not a new book. However, it goes into detail about the not so ancient American civilizations. It does promote the crowded Americas theory; which is gaining prominence. Essentially, the records of the first explorers and settlers is very different from the Americas seen by the large waves of explorers and settlers, only a few years later.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Terra preta has been found along the Amazon over wide areas. This manmade soil type is evidence of not just occasional occupation but regular long term occupation. So these new findings don't really newly establish that there were settlements. The soil has already done this.

    • Very true.

      This is only one example of a long series of discoveries over the last 40 years. An extensive system of earth works, causeways, and canals have been found along the Xingu river (an Amazon tributary). Large sections of jungle have turned out to be fruit tree orchards that over-grew with forest (which would have happened quite quickly once left untended). The entire Amazonian basin itself was virtually unknown to European civilization until the 20th Century - for most of that time it was outside of

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @11:29AM (#53846053) Journal
    They found what they call geoglyphs. Circular earthworks and with a ditch around them. Some places two level deep ditches and earthworks. But so far there is no evidence there was a stone structures, especially the classic a lintel propped up on top of two stone pillars is not found. It is the structures that were stunning and their alignment with equinoxes and solstices that make them very special.

    Earth work and ditches would have been the earliest form of defenses. Let us not belittle the discovery. These earthworks tell us a lot about early settlers in the Amazon region. Also they discovered agriculture late. Eincorn wheat was domesticated in the Levant 11000 years ago, rice in China 9000 years ago. Corn was domesticated in South America just 3000 or 4000 years ago. Domestication of crops correlates with sedentism, and a transition from hunter/gatherer to farmer. We remember that transition in the New World as the story of Cain (farmer) and Abel (hunter). We need to learn the transition in the New World from these clues. So the findings are very very significant.

    It is already a great and significant find. Comparing it to stonehenge is counterproductive. Stonehenge was 5000 years after domestication of crops in the New World. These geoglyphs seem to be concurrent with the domestication of corn. It is unfair to compare geoglyphs with stonehenge.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @11:54AM (#53846135) Journal

      It is the structures that were stunning and their alignment with equinoxes and solstices that make them very special.

      Earthworks can definitely be astronomically aligned. And I don't know if you've ever visited any, but they are also quite stunning.

      http://www.dispatch.com/conten... [dispatch.com]

      https://advancedtrainingassoci... [newswire.com]

      • Statistically speaking, Stonehenge has _fewer_ astronomical alignments then would be expected by chance.

        • Statistically speaking, Stonehenge has _fewer_ astronomical alignments then would be expected by chance.

          I'm not sure, but I thought that was kind of the point. It's not how many times the stars (or the Sun) align with Stonehenge, it's when they do, and with which heavenly bodies they align with.

          I also don't know what to think about the claim that a number of these structures align closely with Orion, but I guess some people are persuaded. For now, I'm going with, "aliens did it".

          • Civilization is old. The cultures lasted for centuries, developing in complexity, myths and legends. There is evidence that humans were tracking the moon 30,000 years ago [nasa.gov]. It's hard to know for sure from those ancient artifacts, but certainly by the time writing was invented 5000 years ago, we can read that humans long before had begun tracking the moon and looked at the stars.
        • Statistically speaking, Stonehenge has _fewer_ astronomical alignments then would be expected by chance.

          It's aligned with sunrise in midsummer and sunset in midwinter. That's approximately one more than you'd get if you scattered a load of rocks at random.

    • by ytene ( 4376651 )
      One observation to make would be that if the discoveries in the Amazon were shown to align with lunar, solar or stellar events, then this would have a remarkable implication on the environmental conditions of that location when they were constructed.

      Stonehenge was constructed on a plain that provided a sufficiently clear view of the horizon during key dates [i.e. the winter solstice] to allow the group that constructed it to implement some very precise alignments. In order for the Amazon constructs to ex
      • the temples of Angkor Wat were shown to have correspondence with the constellation of Draco.

        Since we know the construction date of Angkor Wat fairly well (1113 to 1175 for most of the buildings), this would predict that the constellations of the time recognised by the people of the time in the area included something substantially resembling what we call "Draco".

        Oh it's a Graham Hancock book-selling idea. Enough said. Bring something useful to the table.

    • But so far there is no evidence there was a stone structures, especially the classic a lintel propped up on top of two stone pillars is not found.

      Your "classic lintel structure" is present at approximately 0.1% of the megalithic sites in Britain, and probably lower in Europe as a whole. It is in fact an extremely rare construct.

  • by Provocateur ( 133110 ) <shedied.gmail@com> on Saturday February 11, 2017 @11:43AM (#53846101) Homepage

    At certain hours that were preannounced through the week, the local townspeople would gather round these so-called meeting places and show off the tinier stones and rocks that they have collected prior to their arrival at the area. When the warning horn has been sounded, the townsfolk would grab as many of these rocks as they can in their fists, and await the first of the drones. As soon as the first one is spotted, the populace would start casting their rocks and stones, without giving a damn about gravity's tug and its sometimes painful consequences. Not many of these drones returned, nor have any been spotted since.

  • The surrounding area is completely entrenched with plants from the Cannabis genus. This is clearly Stonedhenge.

    No, not really. Didn't you RTFA? Ha! I'm a kidder, we know you didn't. ;)


  • Probably part of the 2017 portfolio expansion.

    I'm thinking it's like distributed RDM for DynamoDB instance...anyone?
  • The findings prove for the first time that prehistoric settlers in Brazil cleared large wooded areas to create huge enclosures meaning that the 'pristine' rainforest celebrated by ecologists is actually relatively new.

    And what percentage of the rainforest was cleared to build these structures? Obviously not much or else they wouldn't have needed drones to find them. Seems the writer is using a definition of pristine that means "completely and utterly untouched by human hands anywhere at any time", becaus

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