Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Artificial lakes in Bolivian Amazonia?

26 January 2007

Last summer IBED’s Paleo-ecology Research Group (prof. dr. Henry Hooghiemstra) drilled sediment cores from a square lake in Bolivian Amazonia to find out if it the lake is natural or was constructed by a pre-Colombian civilization. A study that was filmed on 29 January 2007 by the Japanese television station TBS as part of a documentary on Amazonia.

The Bolivian lowlands of the Rio Mamoré form a transition zone between an area covered with savannah and dry forest and the wet Amazonian rainforest. In this transition zone that is dominated by rivers and gallery forests many lakes can be found, often having a remarkable square shape. It is this odd shape that has drawn the attention of archaeologists and paleo-ecologists that are currently investigating the hypothesis that the lakes in questions may be artificial ones, made by a pre-Colombian civilization. Perhaps they were constructed as giant growing ponds for the production of nutrient-rich water plants used to fertilize agricultural soil.

Last summer IBED’s Paleo-ecology Research Group (prof. dr. Henry Hooghiemstra) drilled sediment cores from one of the square lakes, in close co-operation with Prof. dr. Yoshinori Yasuda from Japan. Currently, the core is being studied here in Amsterdam, an activity that has drawn the attention of the Japanese television station TBS. As a result, on 29 January 2007, a film crew of TBS visited the Universiteit van Amsterdam to film some of the on-going study of the sediment cores as part of a Japanese documentary on Amazonia.

Published by  IBED