Peru’s Ica Valley was once a fertile floodplain

Published on August 22nd, 2011 | by Sevaan Franks

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desert

Analysis of ancient middens in Peru’s Ica Valley has revealed that in the past, the desert was actually a fertile floodplain.

People were able to raise a variety of crops there for several centuries. But intensive agriculture in pre-conquest times led to ecosystem collapse. The history of the land was recently reconstructed by bioarcheologist David Beresford-Jones of the University of Cambridge by looking at plant remains left in ancient garbage heaps.

Beresford-Jones and a team of archeologists studied plant remains associated with settlement sites spanning roughly 750 B.C. to 1000 A.D. They observed the change as the valley inhabitants went from eating mostly gathered foods, to a period of intense agriculture, then back again to surviving on what they could eke out of nature’s diminished bounty.

[Full story]

Story: Tim Wall, Discovery | Photo: Discovery

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