Uncovering the Amazon’s Real ‘Lost Cities’
This week, the SciFri Book Club concludes its discussion of David Grann’s non-fiction tale of Amazonian exploration, The Lost City of Z. The book recounts the life—and mysterious disappearance—of Victorian explorer Percy Fawcett, who once posited the existence of a lost Amazonian city called “Z.” But was “Z” a real place? And could the harsh Amazonian landscape ever have supported ancient, complex civilizations? Anthropologist Michael Heckenberger studies archaeological sites in the Amazon’s Xingu region, and features in the conclusion of Grann’s tale. He describes the “garden cities” he’s uncovered, suggesting that ancient civilizations once thrived in the Amazon.
Michael Heckenberger is author of The Ecology of Power (Routledge, 2004) and an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.