New Archaeological Findings Challenge Understanding of Amazon Settlement History

A forthcoming study in the March edition of Quaternary Science Reviews presents fresh evidence regarding the earliest human settlement in the Amazon lowlands. The research focuses on two rock shelters in the Serranía de la Lindosa caves of Colombia, suggesting human habitation in the region began around 13,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought.

While prior knowledge indicated human presence in the region around 12,600 years ago, the latest findings, particularly in rock art, point to an earlier arrival. Analysis of rock shelters adjacent to the ancient artwork indicates that the first humans likely inhabited the area at least 13,000 years ago, contributing to a broader understanding of a significant migration throughout the Americas.

The study raises intriguing questions about the narrative of human settlement in the Americas. It challenges the conventional belief that the first settlers crossed a land bridge between Russia and Alaska, suggesting the possibility of a different historical trajectory and a long-lost civilization spanning the American continent.

University of Exeter archaeology professor Mark Robinson commented on the significance of the discovery, stating, “The ‘peopling’ of South America represents one of the great migrations of human history — but their arrival into the Amazon biome has been little understood.” Robinson added that the challenging environment of the dense rainforest and difficulties in identifying fieldwork sites have contributed to gaps in understanding.

The recent excavations not only push back the estimated arrival time of the settlers but also provide novel insights into their lives and historical trajectories during the Holocene, the epoch following the last glacial maximum.

It’s important to note that while the findings suggest a human presence around 13,000 years ago, the possibility of even earlier settlements remains, challenging established archaeological narratives. This discovery adds to the growing body of evidence indicating that human development and interactions may have been more complex and occurred earlier than previously thought.

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