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September 18, 2003

Rainforest civilization?

Lost cities of the Amazon! Well, perhaps not...they might have been large villages. But in any case, the key point is that the perception that any ecosystem is "pristine" needs to be dispelled, after all, the Native American settlement neatly coincided with a megafaunal extinction as did the human incursion into Australia. The great rolling Midwestern prairies were the products of fire as was much of the Australian bush that confronted the European settlers. When white farmers first ventured into the Willamette Valley of western Imbler they were mystified as to why the native peoples of the region left it fallow and un-tilled. Within a few decades most of the region was denuded of forest cover and put to cultivation and the wild past became a dim memory. But recent archaeological research seems to be indicating that the forest that the settlers confronted was a recent re-growth, and the native peoples of the region had been decimated by plague in the 1700s, allowing the reassertion of the natural world.

Posted by razib at 02:17 PM