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Pre-Columbian Society of New York Lecture Series: Daniel Sandweiss
El Niño is a recurrent perturbation of world class. Although centered in the Pacific Basin, it influences much of global climate, even the northeast US where winters tend to be warmer during canonical events. In the Pacific, the Peruvian coast is one of the regions most negatively affected. Normally a desert, the torrential rains brought by El Niño destroy the irrigations systems on which normal agriculture depends, while warming ocean waters reduce the biomass of what is usually one of the world’s greatest fisheries. We now know that El Niño has multiple flavors, each with its own set of challenges for Peru and elsewhere. These events aren’t new: they have been around for much longer than people have been in the New World, but their frequency and intensity have changed over time. In this talk, I will summarize what we know about El Niño’s presence over the last 15 millennia during which humans have been in Peru. I will also discuss some of the possible effects of El Niño frequency change on cultural development in the region and review the latest studies on how pre-European inhabitants met the challenges of El Niño and prospered over the long run despite them.

Jan 26, 2022 06:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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