Countless people have flourished throughout the history of mankind, only to vanish without trace. In Brazil alone, at least fifty tribes of Indians disappeared during the last century as their lands were invaded. The forests or, more often, wastelands which remain contain only faint traces of peoples who once knew that they were unique. Over the millennia they nurtured extraordinary and dynamic cultures. These thrived until confronted by the overwhelming power, brutality and diseases of the developed world.
Great civilizations – the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas in the New World; the Egyptians, Hittites, Etruscans in the Old – left ruins and artefacts for us to admire and ponder over. Most peoples, though, have been hunter-gatherers or nomadic pastoralists and have left little or no trace of their passing.