The Casarabe people lived in southwest Amazonia around AD 500–1400, but understanding of this culture has been limited because the archaeological remains are covered in dense forest. In this week’s issue, Heiko Prümers and his colleagues reveal the discovery of new Casarabe settlements in the Bolivian Amazon. The researchers used lidar to scan the forest, revealing 2 large settlements (each covering more than 100 hectares) and 24 smaller sites, 15 of which had previously been known to exist.
The cover image shows Cotoca, one of the two large settlements, in which earthen mounds (one more than 20 metres high) and long causeways can clearly be seen. The team suggests that these results are the first evidence of agrarian-based, low-density urbanism in western Amazonia. They conclude that the region was not as sparsely populated in pre-Hispanic times as was previously thought.
Cover image: Heiko Prümers/DAI.