Professor Carla Jaimes Betancourt from the Department for the Anthropology of the Americas at the University of Bonn and Heiko Prümers from the German Archaeological Institute have been presented with a prestigious Field Discovery Award by the Shanghai Archaeology Forum in recognition of their studies of extensive pre-Hispanic settlements in the Bolivian Amazon.

The prize is open to researchers from anywhere in the world and is awarded every two years to those who have made archaeological discoveries of global significance. This year saw a total of 131 entries, with the panel ultimately choosing Jaimes’ and Prümers’ work on the grounds of its academic importance and the outstanding contribution that it has made to archaeology.

The Llanos de Mojos in Bolivia are home to several hundred settlements dating from 500 to 1400 CE that have fascinated archaeologists for many years. Researchers from the German Archaeological Institute, the University of Bonn and the University of Exeter uncovered the scale of the largest settlement of the local Casarabe culture identified to date. The maps that they produced using lidar laser technology indicate an early form of urbanism with a low population density—the only known case so far from the Amazon lowlands. Their findings are shining new light on just how diverse and globally widespread early forms of urban living were and how earlier societies lived in the Amazon basin.

Professor Carla Jaimes Betancourt and Heiko Prümers published their results in the illustrious Nature journal in 2022 in collaboration with a number of fellow researchers. Read the press release here: