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Megadrought and CollapseFrom Early Agriculture to Angkor$
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Harvey Weiss

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199329199

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199329199.001.0001

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Twelfth Century AD

Twelfth Century AD

Climate, Environment, and the Tiwanaku State

Chapter:
(p.231) Chapter 7 Twelfth Century AD
Source:
Megadrought and Collapse
Author(s):

Lonnie G. Thompson

Alan L. Kolata

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199329199.003.0008

Climate is a fundamental and independent variable of human existence. Given that 50 percent of the Earth’s surface and much of its population exist between 30oN and 30oS, paleoenvironmental research in the Earth’s tropical regions is vital to our understanding of the world’s current and past climate change. Most of the solar energy that drives the climate system is absorbed in these regions. Paleoclimate records reveal that tropical processes, such as variations in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), have affected the climate over much of the planet. Climatic variations, particularly in precipitation and temperature, play a critical role in the adaptations of agrarian cultures located in zones of environmental sensitivity, such as those of the coastal deserts, highlands, and altiplano of the Andean region. Paleoclimate records from the Quelccaya ice cap (5670 masl) in highland Peru that extend back ~1800 years show good correlation between precipitation and the rise and fall of pre-Hispanic civilizations in western Peru and Bolivia. Sediment cores extracted from Lake Titicaca provide independent evidence of this correspondence with particular reference to the history of the pre-Hispanic Tiwanaku state centered in the Andean altiplano. Here we explore, in particular, the impacts of climate change on the development and ultimate dissolution of this altiplano state.

Keywords:   Tiwanaku collapse, Pre-Hispanic Andean civilization, Andean altiplano climate change, El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Quelccaya ice cap records, Lake Titicaca sediment core

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