Archaeologist reveals how pre-Columbian cultures adapted to El Niño

Hillary Ojeda

Archaeologist Ari Caramanica talks to El Comercio on Peru’s pre-Columbian cultures during times of El Niño.

Archaeologist reveals how pre-Columbian cultures adapted to El Niño

Archaeologist Julio Talledo, visits and researches Peru's pre-Columbian sites. (Photo: El Comercio/Julio Talledo)

Today, the Peruvian Government has invested millions of dollars to protect vulnerable communities and structures from the pending El Niño phenomenon. Fourteen regions have declared a state of emergency and 63 archaeological sites have been singled out for extra protection during the climate phenomenon.

But what about Peru’s pre-Columbian cultures? What did they do to adapt to El Niño?

United States archaeologist, Ari Caramanica, talked to El Comercio about her research in pre-columbian cultures in Peru.

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From Harvard University, Caramanica is currently a researching member of Proyecto Arqueoambiental del Sector de Valle Medio de Chicama, Mocán, Complejo Laguna y Tres Cruces and she sat down with El Comercio to tell them of their recent findings.

She informed that El Niño has a presence in the northern Peru coast for a minimum of about 15,000 years and that since 5,000 B.C., the frequency of the phenomenon has increased.

They have conducted studies in the pampa of Mocán, in Chicama, La Libertad, where they are doing research on the use of plants by the ancient cultures. They are investigating relationships between the use of plants with climate change and haven’t reached defined conclusions yet.

Caramanica told El Comercio that between 900 B.C. and 1500 A.D., Cupisnique, Moche, Chimú, Lambayeque and Inca, certainly experienced the climate phenomenon.

She claims that evidence of seasonal use of settlements in parts of the coast demonstrates an adaptation of the effects of El Niño.

“The ancient Peruvians knew how to adapt to El Niño. This is a very complicated phenomenon; until now we don’t know where will be strong flooding. We see that the people were in constant movement and this basically is an adaptation, even when there was destruction at monumental sites,” Caramanica told El Comercio.

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