Special Reviews

Cultural Responses to Climate Change During the Late Holocene

Science  27 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5517, pp. 667-673
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059287

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Abstract

Modern complex societies exhibit marked resilience to interannual-to- decadal droughts, but cultural responses to multidecadal-to-multicentury droughts can only be addressed by integrating detailed archaeological and paleoclimatic records. Four case studies drawn from New and Old World civilizations document societal responses to prolonged drought, including population dislocations, urban abandonment, and state collapse. Further study of past cultural adaptations to persistent climate change may provide valuable perspective on possible responses of modern societies to future climate change.

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