Putting the rise of the Inca Empire within a climatic and land management context

Chepstow-Lusty, A.J.; Frogley, M.R.; Bauer, B.S.; Leng, M.J. ORCID:; Boessenkool, K.P.; Caarcaillet, C.; Ali, A.A.; Gioda, A.. 2009 Putting the rise of the Inca Empire within a climatic and land management context. Climate of the Past, 5 (3). 375-388.

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The rapid expansion of the Inca from the Cuzco area of highland Peru (ca. AD 1400-1532) produced the largest empire in the New World. Although this meteoric growth may in part be due to the adoption of innovative societal strategies, supported by a large labour force and a standing army, we argue that it would not have been possible without increased crop productivity, which was linked to more favourable climatic conditions. We present a multi-proxy, high-resolution 1200-year lake sediment record from Marcacocha, 12 km north of Ollantaytambo, in the heartland of the Inca Empire. This record reveals a period of sustained aridity that began from AD 880, followed by increased warming from AD 1100 that lasted beyond the arrival of the Spanish in AD 1532. These increasingly warmer conditions would have allowed the Inca and their immediate predecessors the opportunity to exploit higher altitudes (post-AD 1150) by constructing agricultural terraces that employed glacial-fed irrigation, in combination with deliberate agroforestry techniques. There may be some important lessons to be learnt today from these strategies for sustainable rural development in the Andes in the light of future climate uncertainty.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2009 > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
ISSN: 1814-9324
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Climate of the Past is an interactive Open Access journal published by the European Geosciences Union.
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 27 Jul 2009 10:36 +0 (UTC)

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