The more I read about pre-Columbian societies, the more I bemoan their quick and near-total destruction (by the Spanish and disease). So much culture created by our species about which we will never know.
Might be worthy of note that the society in question disappeared centuries before Pizarro showed up. By all accounts, the Inka (there was only one) was an absolute dictator, and all crimes had the death penalty.
That is not to say there were not also admirable societies, or others that had admirable qualities among their less-so. Humanity is messy everywhere. And, it is tragic that present and future generations will need to re-learn what many of them discovered long ago, what of it is ever rediscovered.
The inhabitants of the Amazon region perfected mixed tropical tree agriculture compatible with annual flooding, starting more than 10,000 years ago. Their society may have taken a huge hit from diseases brought by Africans early in the 14th century; archaeology reports a major bump of re-forestation about then. But it must have been diseases the Spaniards brought that permanently wiped out the whole Amazon civilization.
The entheogenic drug protocols invented there, plus chocolate, manioc, and sweet potato are about all we have left of that civilization.
You have a great deal to learn about the prehistory of South American civilization. (So do we all.)
Before old-world explorers showed up, the Amazon population was on the order of 100 million. Most of Amazon jungle was, essentially, a big orchard. We find remains of elevated causeways tens of miles long, evidently for getting around during flood times, and levees and berms to retain water long after the flood receded. The dominant trees today all show evidence of domestication.
10,000 years ago they were already well along with their tree breeding program. The Amazon basin never froze, so people living there were able to start civilization well ahead of people in temperate areas. The main mystery is why it started as late as it did, and not 100,000 years earlier.
Jungle is what we have left of the Amazon flora that has not been cleared for pasture or oilseed.
An orchard is a collection of trees cultivated for their product. Their orchards, unlike those we keep, had a mix of different, complementary species. Tribes in the Pacific Northwest, approximately British Columbia today, also farmed trees this way. Those orchards are distinctive in maintaining their characteristic species mix, untended, into the present.
It is hard to say how much of the "modern" avoidance of multi-cropping traces back to biblical injunction. Nowadays people are likely to blame mechanization and difficulty of making machines compatible with such a practice, but that might be a sort of "just-so" story.
You will need to exercise your google-fu to bring up publications, mostly in the last 10 years. I suggest starting with "pre-columbian amazonian civilization".
But there were people, and tropics, and people in the tropics. Africa, for example, and Sundaland (mountaintops of which are now Indonesia).
We don't know there weren't people in the Americas then. We have good evidence somebody butchered a mastodon near what is now San Diego, what, 130kya? Might have been H. erectus, they really got around. Any way probably not H. sap.
Graeber’s new work, Dawn of Everything, is the latest fascinating read on this. It thoroughly discredits trendy tellings of human history like you’ll find in Sapiens, Jared Diamond, Fukuyama, which simply don’t reflect recent research (and old research reevaluated)
The other day I learned Graeber passed away in September 2020 :
> Graeber was married to artist Nika Dubrovsky. He died unexpectedly in September 2020, while on vacation in Venice. His last book, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, co-written with archaeologist David Wengrow, was published posthumously in 2021.
This is the part I find hard to believe without evidence of modern replication using fermented beverages:
“These psychotropic effects are possible because the beta-carbolines typically produced during fermentation can suppress the MAO enzymes.”
I don’t believe the suppression of MAO enzymes is strong enough to allow oral consumption with notable effects. You would assume that if MAO enzymes were being suppressed to any significant levels by alcoholic beverages we would have many more issues with diet and drug interactions with everyday drinking.