Archaeological Dig May 'Change the History' of Brazil

Scientists find relics that push back the time of first inhabitants by about 1.4K years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2024 11:32 AM CST
Ancient Find May 'Change the History' of Brazil
Some of the ancient remains unearthed at the site in Brazil.   (Brazil's Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage)

Archaeologists weren't too surprised when they began unearthing relics from a dig in northeastern Brazil. They were stunned, however, to keep finding relics the deeper they dug in the coastal city of Sao Luis, reports AFP. In all, they've unearthed four layers representing different eras of human habitation, per Naija News. And they've dated the oldest one to a group that lived between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago—at least 1,400 years earlier than humans were known to have been there.

"This could completely change the history of not just the region but all of Brazil," lead archaeologist Wellington Lage tells AFP. The ongoing dig began in 2019, but Brazil's Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage has just revealed the first findings. Archaeologists have found human remains, along with stone tools, ceramic shards, and decorated shells. What's more, "we've barely scratched the surface," says Lage.

The first layer came from the Tupinamba people, who lived in the region when colonizers from Europe first appeared in the early 17th century. Below that were remnants of Amazon rainforest tribes, and under that, "sambaqui" relics used to bury the dead from an earlier Indigenous settlement. The bigger surprise came more than 6 feet deeper, with ceramics from what's now the earliest documented settlement in the region—even older than a "pre-sambaqui" find in the area dating to about 6,600 years ago. (In Ecuador, archaeologists just found a "lost valley of cities" in the Amazon.)

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