Superdirt Made Lost Amazon Cities Possible?
Centuries-old European explorers' tales of lost cities in the Amazon have long been dismissed by scholars, in part because the region is too infertile to feed a sprawling civilization.
But new discoveries support the idea of an ancient Amazonian urban network—and ingeniously engineered soil may have made it all possible.
(See Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network [August 28, 2008].)
Now scientists are trying to recreate the recipe for the apparently human-made supersoil, which still covers up to 10 percent of the Amazon Basin. Key ingredients included of dirt, charcoal, pottery, human excrement and other waste.
If recreated, the engineered soil could feed the hungry and may even help fight global warming, experts suggest.