Circles of mystery: Strange ancient earthworks in Brazil’s Amazonian rainforest

Hundreds of enigmatic earthworks lay hidden for millennia beneath what was thought to be virgin rainforest. Who built them, and why? In searching for answers, Jennifer Watling discovered how ancient human activity holds the clues for future forest-management. The discovery in recent years of mysterious circular earthworks in western Amazonia is one of the most […]


Lapa do Santo: Decapitation and ritual in ‘the Saint’s rock shelter’

Inside Lapa do Santo, excavations are revealing the complex burial practices of an early Archaic community. André Strauss tells CWA about the grisly finds. Body mutilation, decapitation, defleshing, and possible cannibalism: these chilling descriptions seem more appropriate for a serial killer’s to-do list than for an archaeological project report. But as queasy as they might […]


Amazon culture comes to Denver

Shaped from the clays of the Amazon estuary, the elaborately decorated red, white, and black ceramics of the Marajó culture are a highlight of the Marvelous Mud exhibition at the Denver Art Museum (until 18 September 2011). They are the work of an ancient Amazonian culture largely unknown to all but a handful of specialists, […]


Amazonian Emire Found

Stories about lost jungle civilizations are normally the staple of adventure films or the lunatic fringe. Now fiction has become reality with the discovery of hundreds of huge and hitherto unknown earthworks in the upper Amazon basin, near the borders of Bolivia and Brazil. Wide-scale forest clearance for agriculture has revealed 200 enclosures and the […]


Serra Da Capivara

The compelling rock art of north-eastern Brazil explored. But how might it redraft the story of early human migration


Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile

Two hearths, three postholes, and a fragment from a nautical instrument: could this be the shelter of Alexander Selkirk, the original Robinson Crusoe


Lost Towns

Far from the Amazon being virgin forest, it once supported a network of densely populated towns, according to Prof. Mike Heckenberger, from the University of Florida, in Gainesville, whose team has found evidence of a grid-like pattern of settlements connected by road networks and arranged around large central plazas in the Upper Xingu region of […]