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Pueblo civilization thrived after ancient volcanic eruption

TORONTO – An ancient climate disaster and its expanding global impact were key factors in the last flourishing civilization of ancient Pueblo indigenous societies in North America, according to a new study. New study in Antiquity Journal.

In AD 536, a major volcanic eruption in Iceland led to climate catastrophe across large swaths of Europe and Asia, with the subsequent volcanic winter dimming the sun, cooling down the heat. temperature and cause crop failure.

A second eruption in AD 541 prolonged the crisis, possibly lasting decades.

The eruptions and the resulting fallout led one medieval scholar to describe it as “one of the worst times to exist, if not the worst years”.

In the February 2022 issue of the Journal of Antiquities, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles and Colorado State University studied how indigenous peoples in North America were affected by environmental changes stemming from volcanic eruptions.

Focusing on ancestral Pueblo societies in what is now the northern part of the southwestern United States, the study found that the aftermath of volcanic eruptions led to a period of severe cold in the region, resulted in people migrating from areas affected by crop failures.

Tree rings examined from across the southwestern United States show how cold and dry conditions following the eruption stunted tree growth, and archaeological data show a decline in housing and industry construction, with evidence of a renunciation of longstanding traditions in the area.

At that time, indigenous people lived in small hamlets and dispersed based on family ties. However, the climate crisis has torn apart existing social structures, the study said.

In the post-crisis period, which saw population explosions across much of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah during the 7th century, researchers believe it reflects the post-crisis recovery of the eruption, leading to a new way of life.

New crops, the use of new technology and the construction of settlements with large public buildings with evidence of a shared political and social ideology laid the foundations for primitive villages.

The result was the reorganized ancestral Pueblo societies that would eventually give rise to famous sites like Chaco Canyon, a major cultural center between AD 800 and 1150.

Archaeologists are trying to figure out why ancient Pueblo groups moved from small, family-focused villages to massive sites with the largest buildings on the continent at the time. that point.

New research suggests that the transformation is partly a result of the climate crisis affecting Indigenous society and leading to its reorganization.

“Human societies have the ability to reorganize in response to unprecedented climate disruptions,” said RJ Sinensky, lead author of the study, in a statement. nearly 1,500 years ago, ancestral Puebloan farmers living in the arid region of what is now the southwestern United States were resourceful and resilient in response to extreme global temperature anomas occurred in the last 2,500 years. “

Descendants of the ancient Pueblo people continued to inhabit what is now the northern region of the southwestern United States.

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