Pueblo civilization flourished after an ancient volcano erupted

TORONTO-

An ancient climate catastrophe and its widespread impact across the world was a major factor in the flourishing civilization of ancient Pueblo indigenous societies in North America, according to a new study in Antiquity Journal.

In 536 AD, a massive volcanic eruption in Iceland brought climate catastrophe to large parts of Europe and Asia, the ensuing volcanic winter darkening the sun, lowering temperatures and causing failure crops.

A second eruption in AD 541 prolonged the crisis, possibly for decades.

The resulting eruptions and fallout led one medieval scholar to describe it as “one of the worst times to live, if not the worst year.

In the upcoming February 2022 issue of Antiquity Journal, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and Colorado State University studied how Indigenous peoples in North America were affected by the environmental changes resulting from volcanic eruptions.

Focusing on ancestral Pueblo societies in what is now the northern region of southwestern America, the study reveals that the aftermath of volcanic eruptions resulted in an extremely cold period in the region, which led to migrations away from affected areas when crops have failed.

Tree rings examined across the southwestern United States show how cold, dry conditions after eruptions stunted plant growth and archaeological data shows a decline in habitation and construction, with evidence the abandonment of long-standing traditions in the region.

At the time, Aboriginal people lived in small, scattered hamlets based on family ties. The climate crisis, however, has torn existing social structures apart, according to the study.

In the post-Crisis period, which saw a population boom in much of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah in the 7th century, researchers believe this reflects a recovery from the eruptions, leading to new ways of life.

New cultures, the use of new technologies and the construction of settlements with large communal buildings testifying to a common social and political ideology laid the foundations of the first villages.

The resulting reorganized ancestral Pueblo societies would eventually create famous sites like Chaco Canyon, a major cultural center from AD 800 to 1150.

Archaeologists have tried to understand why ancient Pueblo groups grew from small, family-centered hamlets to massive sites that contained the largest buildings on the continent at the time.

The new study posits that the transformation was partly the result of the climate crisis affecting indigenous society and led to its reorganization.

“Human societies are capable of reorganizing to cope with unprecedented climate disruptions,” the study’s lead author, RJ Sinensky, said in a statement. to respond to the most extreme global temperature anomaly to occur in the past 2,500 years.

Descendants of the ancient Pueblo people continue to live in what is now the northern region of Southwestern America.