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09 Feb 04:18 PM

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The passage below is from a recent scientific article. I have difficulty understanding the second sentence(=By knowing---).
Could anyone paraphrase the sentence? (At least grammatically, I think, the sentence should read: By knowing ---- one person, we can translate ---. )

(Excerpt)
The large pre-Columbian population sustained itself through farming — there is extensive archaeological evidence for slash-and-burn agriculture, terraced fields, large earthen mounds and home gardens. By knowing how much agricultural land is required to sustain one person, population numbers can be translated from the area known to be under human land use. We found that 62 million hectares of land, or about 10 percent of the landmass of the Americas, had been farmed or under another human use when Columbus arrived. For comparison, in Europe 23 percent and in China 20 percent of land had been used by humans at the time.

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