Floods, Famines, and Fagan: Recent Research on El Niño in the Age of Andean States and Empires

Author(s): Daniel Sandweiss

Year: 2015


In 1997-98, the first mega-Niño of the internet age devastated vast regions of the equatorial Pacific basin and altered weather throughout the globe; El Niño became a household term. Within two years, Brian Fagan had published "Floods, Famines, and Emperors: El Niño and the Fate of Civilizations", calling global attention to potential impacts of the phenomenon in prehistory. The Peruvian coast is ground-zero for El Niño, and Fagan included a chapter on Peru in his book. Over the last 15 years, new research has increased our understanding of the timing, frequency, and potential impacts of this climatic perturbation in coastal Peru. In this paper, I review the most salient new results on climate and civilization over the last two millennia, when complex states and empires controlled the Central Andes. Niño-related topics include landscape alteration and monument location, cycles of temple abandonment, population displacements, and the effects of the Spanish Conquest on coastal change, among others.

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Cite this Record

Floods, Famines, and Fagan: Recent Research on El Niño in the Age of Andean States and Empires. Daniel Sandweiss. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396558)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;