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A Multidisciplinary Approach from Archaeology, Climatology and History on Climate Change

and The Possible Collapse of Civilization
December 19 and 20
09:00 - 20:00
Institute of Archaeology
Rapa Nui (Easter Island) making
monuments, eco-changes and resilience
(circa AD 1200-1600)

Food production and resilience to climate

change in the Peruvian Andes
Bill Sillar, Nick Branch and Stuart Black

Sue Hamilton

Director of the Institute of Archaeology, UCL

December 20: 11:30 12:30

Institute of Archaeology, University of Reading

December 20: 10:00 - 11:00

The central Andes is characterised by intensive

agricultural production focused on the use of
terracing and canal irrigation as well as herding.
Food crops and domesticated animals have not
only been the basis of household subsistence but
also a major concern of colonising empires such
as the Wari, Inca and Spanish. Past changes in
the climate and
socio economic organisation
resulted in changes in the emphasis of agropastoral activities. But, equally changes in land,
water, plant and animal management affected
local and regional ecologies and transformed
society. In this paper we raise questions about the
degree to which previous examples of radical
social change (e.g. the collapse of Wari/ Tiwanaku
and the emergence of the Inca Empire) can be
linked to climate change, and the degree to which
the agricultural and social systems in the Andes
today have sufficient resilience to withstand future
climate change.

Interest in Rapa Nuis iconic moai (statue)

construction period is dominated by a focus on its
demise. Words and phases such as collapse,
the island that self-destructed, ecodisaster and
disastrous European contact abound. There is a
tendency to analyse the moai as isolated entities,
rather than as elements of a dynamic
interrelationship between people, landscape,
places and architecture. A neglected mystery of
Rapa Nui is the relationship between a remote
i s l a n d s c h a n g i n g e n v i r o n m e n t a n d t h e
emergence of an island-wide cosmology of
constructing with stone. The presentation will pull
together the diverse research avenues by which
the UCL AHRC funded Rapa Nui Landscapes of
Construction Project has investigated the
meaning, contexts and adaptive resilience of
the moai- period construction activities. It offers a
Polynesian framework of understanding place and
environmental change.

Miguel Fuentes

PhD Student. Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Dr. Francisco Diego Fras

Senior Teaching Fellow Astrophysics Group, UCL


CREDOC Institute, UCL

Institute of Archaeology, UCL
World Archaeology Section, IoA-UCL