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Climate change and cultural resilience in late pre-Columbian Amazonia

de Souza, J. G., Robinson, M., Maezumi, Y., Capriles, J., Hoggarth, J. A., Lombardo, U., Novello, V. F., Apaestegui, J., Whitney, B., Urrego, D., Alves, D. T., Rostain, S., Power, M. J., Mayle, F. E., da Cruz Jr, F. W., Hooghiemstra, H. and Iriarte, J. (2019) Climate change and cultural resilience in late pre-Columbian Amazonia. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3 (7). pp. 1007-1017. ISSN 2397-334X (In Press)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0924-0

Abstract/Summary

The long term response of ancient societies to climate change has been a matter of global debate. Until recently, the lack of integrative studies between archaeological, palaeoecological, and palaeoclimatological data had prevented an evaluation of the relationship between climate change, distinct subsistence strategies, and cultural transformations across the largest rainforest of the world, Amazonia. Here, we review the most relevant cultural changes seen in the archaeological record of six different regions within Greater Amazonia during late pre-Columbian times. We compare the chronology of those cultural transitions with high-resolution regional palaeoclimate proxies, showing that, while some societies faced major reorganisation during periods of climate change, others were unaffected and even flourished. We propose that societies with intensive, specialised land-use systems were vulnerable to transient climate change. In contrast, land-use systems that relied primarily on polyculture agroforestry, resulting in the formation of enriched forests and fertile Amazonian Dark Earths in the long term, were more resilient to climate change.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:83777
Publisher:Nature

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