Archive for the 'Mesoamerica' Category

Mar 22 2011

New research shows extent of Native American land management long before Columbus

(Waco, Texas) A new study by Baylor University geology researchers published in Geology shows that Native Americans’ land use nearly a century ago produced a widespread impact on the eastern North American landscape and floodplain development several hundred years prior to the arrival of major European settlements.

Researchers attribute early colonial land-use practices, such as deforestation, plowing and damming with influencing present-day hydrological systems across eastern North America. Previous studies suggest that Native Americans’ land use in eastern North America initially caused the change in hydrological systems, however, little direct evidence has been provided until now.

The Baylor study found that pre-European so-called “natural” floodplains have a history of prehistoric indigenous land use, and thus colonial-era Europeans were not the first people to have an impact on the hydrologic systems of eastern North America. The study also found that prehistoric small-scale agricultural societies caused widespread ecological change and increased sedimentation in hydrologic systems during the Medieval Climate Anomaly-Little Ice Age, which occurred about 700 to 1,000 years ago.

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