The Secret of El Dorado

The Secret of El DoradoIn 1542, the Spanish Conquistador, Francisco de Orellana ventured along the Rio Negro, one of the Amazon Basin’s great rivers. Hunting a hidden city of gold, his expedition found a network of farms, villages and even huge walled cities. At least that is what he told an eager audience on his return to Spain.

The prospect of gold drew others to explore the region, but none could find the people of whom the first Conquistadors had spoken. The missionaries who followed a century later reported finding just isolated tribes of hunter-gatherers. Orellana’s story seemed to be no more than a fanciful myth.

When scientists came to weigh up the credibility of Orellana’s words, they reached the same conclusion. As productive as the rainforest may appear, the soil it stands in is unsuited to farming. It is established belief that all early civilizations have agriculture at their hearts.

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Ratings: 8.55/10 from 22 users.

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Comments and User Reviews

  • Andrew

    wow. I'm definitely gonna try using charcoal on my corn this year. :)

  • hmm

    interesting .. think I'm going to give it a shot with charcoal for my little herb garden!

  • Linda McGuigan

    I love this site thank's so much, I am learning much more than I ever learned at school.

    Linda ;-*

  • Daniel

    check out at 10:44 when Dr. clarks erickson is standing on the boat, check out in the water just over from his hand. Its a USO it pops up from in the water it has a white circular light then dives back under. and if you look closely you can see it has a shadow in the water, maybe not USO but deffinitly wierd, i thought it was an aligator at first but, not.

  • Linda McGuigan

    @ Daniel I watched it to and I saw something weird thank's for pointing this out Daniel.
    Linda ;-*

  • eireannach666

    "School" teaches us what they want us to learn about the way they want us to be and think...Like church...well here in the U.S. for sure...

    Think outside the box.

  • jay

    It's funny how the so called 3th world has been destroyed by the Europeans since the begin of times... also, it's funny how the hypocrites from the so called 1st world are so worry about how they deal with their forests since we already destroyed ours long time ago and nobody ever said a word about it...
    Ancient cultures cultivates life in harmony with nature and we cultivate technology destroying nature. I wonder... are we really that smart?

  • Andrew Mead

    I continue to see a word that's too often used to describe the extinction or near extinction of a group of persons. I can't take it any longer.
    A population that had been "decimated" was in fact, one that was alive and healthy as exactly 10% of the number had been wiped-out, eliminated, liquidated, etc.,leaving 90% alive--perhaps upset or very angry but alive and capable of reproducing.

    The Roman army had a peculiar practice. Upon the defeat or surrender of an enemy army they'd slay one out of ten afterwards according to standard Roman procedure-I'm not sure why, perhaps it was to really show 'em who was boss. Of course, "decimate" is derived from Latin-the language the Romans used and it was the word they created to describe one aspect of their unusual treatment of the vanquished. (The treatment may have been unusually humane; other armies may have been slaughtering 100% of their prisoners)

    Today and for some time now, the word decimate has been horribly abused. It can however, be used correctly with the application of a little creativity. For instance, my friend 'tithes' at his church which is to say, he offers his church exactly 10% his annual income. He could legitimately declare: " I've adopted a practice that practically decimates my annual income for the benefit of my church".

    Please, starting today, lets agree to abandon the practice of decimating the English language with the wanton abuse and misapplication of words!!

    Thank You.

  • Andrew Mead

    What is a USO? Unidentified submerged object?
    Really!

  • Andrew Mead

    Enough of the nonsense. I don't think de Orellana was lying when he returned to Spain and described what he saw in S.America.

    It's possible that he may have been misinterpreted or that he embellished his story but it's highly unlikely a Spanish Gentlemen of that time would take the chance of having his reputation and honor ruined by telling a huge lie knowing that he'd be "found-out" during his lifetime.

    Later expeditions reportedly found little civilization. Of course, they weren't interested in history, they were looking for gold and they wanted to find it quickly. When you're distracted by something like gold you're unlikely to have your interest aroused by signs of recent civilization or even to take note of them.

    The jungle and the vegetation that accompanies it grows very quickly if given the chance. Traces of civilization could be covered by a jungle blanket in a matter of 10 to 20 years.

    It's fact the earliest known, large civilizations were centered on large rivers throughout the globe, in Persia, China, India, Egypt--why not the largest river of them all?

    The amazing Amazon River.

    I think archaeologists have literally just scraped the surface of the history of Pre- or Non-historic man.

  • http://humusbeings.com Logrythm

    I've been using charcoal in my vegetable patch for more than 2 years now. I suspect (as I believe NOTHING!) that it has had a real positive effect. For instance I have grown 3 harvests of Brassicas in exactly the same spot and they have all been the best I've ever grown; big, more resistant to pests, fast growing and great tasting. Of course I still need to manure and water but the charcoal seems to add real value to this, making more of it.

    Can charcoal save modern civilisation? I suspect so ;-)

  • PAUL

    REALLY INTERESTING I LIKED IT

  • Brian

    I really liked this documentary. Seems logical that the amazon peoples would have had some sort of "mother" culture in common and that there would have been some sort of civilization around the Amazon river.

    The large upper Amazon site in Bolivia was super cool!

    Know of any others similar to this? I mean in caliber and general historic topic. Not necessarily Amazon basin but that reveal less known 'facts'... not like 'Black Athena' though thanks :-D

  • http://humusbeings.com Logrythm

    The USO @ 10.44 is a river dolphin I believe. Or to me; an ISO ;-) If you add char to your soil, crunch it up for maximum benefit.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XXNFDD44TK7ODM5MXSBV3VUWDA Roberta

    A wonderful documentary with lots of hope for mankind in it's final message.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000333834288 Robin Propst

    i think this documentary was kind of dull

  • madscirat

    Great doc. This is the first I have heard about terra preta. Spent some time researching it, absolutely fascinating. Ten internets that stuffy old white arm chair anthropologist at the beginning was not expecting 'dirt' to be the science or technology Amazonians possessed that we do not.