Archaeologists have discovered a constellation of ancient Amazonian structures in what is now modern-day Ecuador, according to new research published yesterday. Flourishing for roughly 1,000 years about two millennia ago, the settlements are believed to have been populated by 30,000 residents at their peak—roughly equal to London under the Roman Empire at the same time.
The complex was discovered using LiDAR (light detection and ranging), a technique in which variations in surface height are measured using airborne laser mapping. The approach allows researchers to penetrate dense forest canopies or layers of Earth, revealing what lies underneath without labor-intensive fieldwork and digs. Learn more about how LiDAR—also used in many self-driving vehicles to "see" the road—has revolutionized archaeology.
The find follows a number of similar discoveries in recent years, including a sprawling urban network in the Bolivian Amazon two years ago.