Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space & Astronomical Research invited lecture
Amazonia before Columbus – Virgin Wilderness or Domesticated Landscape?
Francis Mayle (University of Edinburgh)
Tuesday 22nd May, 11.15am
The Open University, Milton Keynes
Amazonia has long been considered to be a pristine wilderness, largely untouched by human activity, supporting small, scattered indigenous tribes living in harmony with their rainforest environment.
However, recent discoveries of massive geometric earthworks, revealed by deforestation in recent decades, are challenging this ‘virgin wilderness’ paradigm and pointing to substantially greater environmental impacts by pre-Columbian societies than previously supposed.
In my talk I review these archaeological discoveries and discuss how a combined palaeoecological-archaeological approach has the potential to resolve the scale of environmental land use and disturbance associated with these ancient cultures. I also consider the implications of these findings for understanding rainforest ecology and biodiversity, as well as conservation policy.
If you are external to The Open University and wish to attend this lecture please contact William Gosling in advance.