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Ancient warming

The current edition of Nature magazine has a fascinating story about an ancient Peruvian site that may contain as many as 20 cities with massive pyramids and sunken circular plazas sprawled over three river valleys. It has been determined that construction started about 5,000 years ago.

Andean society was built primarily on cotton farming and trade, supported by a network of fishing villages along the Peruvian coast. But beginning about 3100 BC, the climate turned much drier, eliminating the naturally growing fruits and vegetables that villagers relied on to supplement their diet of anchovies and fish. They tried diverting rivers to desert land to grow crops, but by 1800 BC the soil began to lose productivity, leading to the eventual decline of and fall of this large city complex.

Put another way, almost 5,000 years before the industrial revolution there was a period of global warming that lasted for over 1,100 years. Further exploration continues, but to date, archaeologists have yet to uncover the remains of a single Ford Expedition or Cadillac Escalade.

Tony Rohl

Grass Valley