Speed Reads

an ancient mystery

Rancher discovers massive 'Stonehenge' in the depths of the Amazon

The discovery of a Stonehenge-like megalith in the Amazon rainforest has forced researchers to reassess what the region might have looked like 1,000 years ago, centuries before European conquest began, The New York Times reports. Prior to the discovery of the megalith, scholars had believed that the Amazon was relatively untouched by people other than small, nomadic populations. Taken alongside recent discoveries of complex infrastructure like roads, land carvings, and settlements, the megalith has led scholars to consider that instead, as many as 10 million people might have lived in the ancient Amazon.

The megalith was first discovered by a cattle rancher in the 1960s and appears to align with the sun's movement on the winter solstice, hinting at advances in astronomy. Ceramic burial urns were also found at the site, indicating it might have functioned as a cemetery. "We're starting to piece together the puzzle of the Amazon Basin's human history, and what we're finding in [the Brazilian state of] Amapá is absolutely fascinating," said Mariana Cabral, an archaeologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais who has spent the last decade working at the site.

"It makes me wonder," said Lailson Camelo de Silva, the rancher who discovered the megalith and now serves as its caretaker. "What other secrets about our past are still hidden in Brazil's jungles?" Explore the megalith below. Jeva Lange