Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pringle on the Inca

Heather Pringle, the terrific archaeology journalist from Vancouver, has a piece in the current National Geographic on the rise of the Inca empire.

Between 1150 and 1300, the Inca around Cusco began to capitalize on a major warming trend in the Andes.   As temperatures climbed, Inca farmers moved up the slopes by 800 to 1,000 feet, building tiers of agricultural terraces, irrigating their fields, and reaping record corn harvests. "These surpluses," says Alex Chepstow-Lusty, a paleoecologist at the French Institute for Andean Studies in Lima who has been studying the region's ancient climate, allowed the Inca to "free up many people for other roles, whether building roads or maintaining a large army." In time Inca rulers could call up more conscripts and supply a larger army than any neighboring chief
She also contributes to the science blog LWON.
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