El Niño resilience farming on the north coast of Peru

Ari Caramanica, Luis Huaman Mesia, Claudia R. Morales, Gary Huckleberry, Luis Jaime Castillo B., Jeffrey Quilter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

El Niño-Southern Oscillation has been treated as a disruptor of environmental and socioeconomic equilibrium both in ancient times and in modern-day Peru. Recent work in the coastal desert plain, known as the Pampa de Mocan, challenges this view by demonstrating that prehispanic irrigation systems were designed to incorporate floods and convert them into productive waters. Archaeological investigations in this landscape reveal a 2,000-y history of floodwater farming embedded in conventional canal systems. Together with a pollen record recovered from a prehispanic well, these data suggest that the Pampa de Mocan was a flexible landscape, capable of taking advantage of El Niño floodwaters as well as river water. In sharp contrast to modern-day flood mitigation efforts, ancient farmers used floodwaters to develop otherwise marginal landscapes, such as the Pampa de Mocan, which in turn mitigated risk during El Niño years. These archaeological data speak to contemporary policy debates in the face of increasingly intense and frequent natural disasters and question whether El Niño Southern Oscillation events should be approached as a form of temporary disorder or as a form of periodic abundance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24127-24137
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume117
Issue number39
DOIs
StatePublished - 29 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • ENSO
  • Floodwater farming
  • Irrigation agriculture
  • Pollen
  • History, Ancient
  • Ethnobotany
  • El Nino-Southern Oscillation
  • Plants
  • Agriculture/history
  • Peru
  • Agricultural Irrigation/history
  • irrigation agriculture
  • pollen
  • archaeology
  • floodwater farming

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