Everybody is interested in ancient civilizations. The way they lived, how they spread around the world and many other facts about them are investigated by scientists. New evidence shows that plants can tell a lot about ancient civilizations and the way they spread.
A team of researchers focused on finding the relation between ancient civilizations and the ecology of the places they lived in. The scientists mentioned that plants can show a lot of interesting things. This study was published in the journal Science.
The Amazon is the best place to investigate more about plants and ancient civilizations. This is because the rainforests there have been preserved really well. At least the ones that were not burned or chopped off by people to make clear lands for crops.
Indigenous people, the ones that lived there before Europeans arrived in the Americas, were the ones that used some of the plants. In order to see how plants and trees were used by the first people in the Amazon, the team of researchers used 1,170 forest plots in the Amazon Tree Diversity Network. The researchers were able to identify more than 4,900 species of plants. From those species, more than 220 were extremely abundant or “hyper dominant”.
After that, the scientists took 1,091 forest plots from the 1,170 they previously investigated. They layered them on a map of more than 3,000 sites in that region. All of the archeological sites include pre-Columbian settlements. The team of scientists focused more on the 85 species of trees that were cultivated by the Amazonian people. Some of these species include cacao, acai, and the Brazil nut.
Researchers observed that when these species of plants were close to an archeological site, they were more diverse and more abundant. The scientists mentioned that this shows that such plants are not only a source of food but also a part of the cultural heritage of ancient civilizations. These “domesticated plants” helped the team of researchers find archeological sites that were undiscovered until now.
The team of researchers added that it is very difficult to find archeological sites in the forest. They mentioned that the plants were the ones that led the way. Without these plants, they would have been unable to locate these new archeological sites.
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