Monday, March 12, 2007

Paper challenges 1491 Amazonian population theories
There's a scholarly debate brewing about whether pre-Columbian Amazonian populations settled in large numbers across Amazonia and created the modern forest setting that many conservationists take to be ‘natural.'

This view has become fashionable among many archaeologists and anthropologists, and is challenged in a recent paper from Dr. Mark Bush of the Florida Institute of Technology. The findings of Bush’s research may rekindle a debate has major implications for land use and policy-setting in the rain forest.

"We don't contradict that there were major settlements in key areas flanking the Amazon Channel -- there could have been millions of people living there," says Mark Bush, a British-born paleo-ecologist who travels to extremely remote rain forest locations to collect core samples from ancient lakes. He then analyzes those samples for pollen and charcoal and thus is able to conclude with a high degree of accuracy the extent of human settlement in that region.

Hmmmm. This seems to be using only data from Amazonia proper. I had thought that the hypothesis being refuted here was mostly only used in the Maya territories where you have extensive -- and large -- settlements all over the place.