Archaeology: Aboriginal Sophisticates

Ancient America was not as primitive as moderns may think. The discovery of a network of earthen ridges, engineered with geometric precision by pre-Columbian aborigines in South America, is persuading archaeologists to revise their theories.

Aerial photos taken over the sparse, seasonally flooded fields of northern Colombia—50 miles east of Monteria in the San Jorge River district—first revealed what even the earliest conquistadors overlooked or could not see: more than 1,400 sq. mi. of intricate clay corrugations, built generally at right angles to the several rivers in the area and standing in bold relief among the numerous waterways. The ridges...

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