Tapping into the past

(April 25, 2024)

Vanderbilt University News 

Among the dry hills of the north coast of Peru are massive earth mounds that appear to be natural features. Archaeologist Ari Caramanica has revealed them to be something else: the remnants of large dams built by ancient peoples thousands of years ago to control runoff from catastrophic storms and irrigate the harsh desert landscape. With a prestigious new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, she will lead a multidisciplinary effort using archaeology and ethnography to understand these structures and how farmers might apply their lessons to deal with the modern-day challenge of climate change. 

“We’re trying to uncover not just the tools and infrastructure, but also the conceptual logic and worldviews behind their implementation,” said Caramanica, an assistant professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt. “We think that’s of great value to policymakers, scientists and the public in facing the realities of climate change today.”  

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