The Atlantic

The Amazon Rainforest Was Profoundly Changed by Ancient Humans

The region’s ecology is a product of 8,000 years of indigenous agriculture.
Source: Carolina Levis

For more than a quarter-century, scientists and the general public have updated their view of the Americas before European contact. The plains and the Eastern forests were not a wilderness, but a patchwork of gardens, they’ve found. The continents were not vast uninhabited expanses but a bustling network of towns and cities. Indigenous people, we’ve learned, altered the ecology of the Americas as surely as the European invaders did.

Now, an expansive new study, published Thursday in Science and bearing the names of more than 40 co-authors, suggests that the human fingerprint can even be seen across one of the most biodiverse yet unexplored regions in the world, the Amazon rainforest.

For more than 8,000 years, people

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
This Election Brought Out Canada's Worst
Almost alone among the advanced democracies, the country has been bypassed by reactionary populism.
The Atlantic5 min read
The Brave New World of HBO’s Watchmen
Damon Lindelof’s new show advances the clock on Alan Moore’s original series but retains the comic’s skepticism of heroes in masks.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Parasite And The Curse Of Closeness
Bong Joon-ho’s film depicts a class system in which the most profound harms result from the relationships of interdependence between rich and poor.