Tag: Incas

Global Warming May Have Helped Make the Incas Mighty

By Allison Bond | July 28, 2009 5:28 pm

Machu Picchu 2The ancient civilization known as the Incan empire, which at its peak reached a population of 8 million people spread throughout South America, may owe its success at least in part to a warming climate, according to a study in the journal Climate of the Past. A rise in temperatures would have melted glaciers and allowed crops to grow further into the Andes mountains, fostering agricultural growth.

The study found that between 1100 and 1533 AD, temperatures increased several degrees, making it possible for the Incas to use new mountain land for agriculture. It also expanded the swath of land the empire occupied which, at its peak, spanned from the middle of Chile to the border shared by Ecuador and Colombia. This climate information came from an analysis of deeply buried sediment samples in the region the Incans once occupied. The researchers examined pollen and seeds buried in layers of mud on the floor of Lake Marcacocha in the Cuzco region of the Peruvian Andes. Similar to the rings in the trunk of a tree, each layer of sediment represents a fixed period of time. In the case of Lake Marcacocha, the researchers were able to analyze a 1,200-year-old sediment record [Discovery News].

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Human Origins
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