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El Niño, Catastrophism, and Culture Change in Ancient America

El Niño, Catastrophism, and Culture Change in Ancient America

Edited by Daniel H. Sandweiss and Jeffrey Quilter

ISBN 9780884023531

Publication date: 01/31/2009

El Niño is an extreme climate perturbation that periodically changes weather throughout the globe, often with dire consequences. First recognized in Peru, El Niño events are best known and documented there. This book summarizes research on the nature of El Niño events in the Americas and details specific historic and prehistoric patterns in Peru and elsewhere. By also looking at other catastrophic natural events in the ancient New World, the book illustrates how scientific archaeology can serve pure research as well as provide information for contemporary issues.


  • The contributions range from providing detailed understandings of paleoclimatic data to specific effects of catastrophic events on human populations and the solutions and adaptations made throughout prehistoric and historic periods. In that sense, the chapters open climatic discussions to the vast range of data from archaeological contexts, which provide the evidence for catastrophic events in the past as well as the different ways in which people in pre-Columbian cultures responded to potential catastrophes.

    —R. P. Wright, Choice


  • Daniel H. Sandweiss is Professor of Anthropology and Quaternary and Climate Studies, and Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, at the University of Maine.
  • Jeffrey Quilter is past Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, and of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Book Details

  • 438 pages
  • 7 x 10 inches
  • Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection