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Socio-economic responses to Late Holocene climate variability and environmental change in the Peruvian Andes

Handley, J. (2022) Socio-economic responses to Late Holocene climate variability and environmental change in the Peruvian Andes. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00112049


This thesis provides new palaeoenvironmental data from the Peruvian Andes and develops our understanding of socio-economic responses to environmental and climatic changes within the Late Holocene. The three study areas of the Callejón de Huaylas (Ancash Region); Chillón Valley (Lima Region); Chicha-Soras Valley (Apurímac Region), provide a transect across the Andes to better understand regional differences in social responses to, and variations in, environmental change. The analysis of wetland records located within the key agricultural belt of the Peruvian Andes (3000-4000m a.s.l.), provide valuable records of past human land-use. By analysing palaeoecological (pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, phytoliths and micro-charcoal) and geochemical (micro-XRF core scanning) signatures within these records, we can ascertain how past societies responded to known periods of major climate change, such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and the Little Ice Age (LIA). The results of this research have demonstrated that pre-Hispanic societies were able to cope with changes in climate by adapting agricultural practices, including the construction of reservoirs, agricultural terraces, and the use of wet pasture meadows (bofedales), and in doing so were able to deal with variability within natural resources, such as water availability. They also ensured the stability of their agricultural systems with continuity within the land-use records occurring over hundreds of years. It has also demonstrated considerable potential for high-resolution analysis of environmental change and the detection of both longer-scale regional climate change (MCA and LIA) and short-term climatic fluctuations (El Niño). Understanding how pre-Hispanic societies mitigated the risk posed by climate variability is important for future land-use, water, and soil conservation practices. The future preservation of the wetlands within the study is highly important for both climate change regulation and for conserving a valuable archive of human-environment interactions.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Branch, N.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:112049


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