Cradle of agriculture in the Amazon region much older

In 207 the low-lying areas of Bolivia's amazon were flooded after heavy rains ravaged the country. Keystone/Martin Alipaz

People began growing manioc and squash much earlier than previously thought, a team of researchers led by the Swiss university of Bern has found.

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A study shows that the earliest human inhabitants of Moxos plains began transforming the tropical savanna eco-region in Bolivia 10,000 years ago, that is 8,000 earlier than previously thought.

They created thousands of so-called forest islands, as they tamed wild plants to grow food, according to a press release by Bern university earlier this week.

The study was conducted by scientists from Bern in cooperation with universities in Britain, Spain and the United States.

The study involved an unprecedented large-scale regional analysis of more than 60 archaeological sites, according to the university statement. 

Samples were retrieved from 30 forest islands and archaeological excavations were carried out in four of them.

“Until this recent study, scientists had neither searched for, nor excavated, old archaeological sites in this region that might document the pre-Columbian domestication of these globally important crops,” says Umberto Lombardo from Bern university.

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