An international team of scientists from Switzerland, Australia, Germany and the United States has discovered remains of three hunter-gatherer settlements in the western Amazon.
Their study, reported in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, focuses on a region in the Bolivian Amazon thought to be rarely occupied by pre-agricultural communities due to unfavorable environmental conditions.
Hundreds of ‘forest islands’- small forested mounds – are found throughout the region. Their origins attributed to termites, erosion or ancient human activity.
The team reports that three of these islands are shell middens, mounds of seashells left by settlers more than 10,000 years ago. Samples of soil from these mounds revealed a dense accumulation of freshwater snail shells, animal bones and charcoal forming the middens.