Climate, culture linked in prehistoric Northeast





Though climate change seems a particularly modern predicament — one that generates alarm about the fate of the planet and how people and businesses will adapt — scientists are finding evidence that climate fluctuations influenced cultural changes among inhabitants of prehistoric New England.

Research is revealing the interconnected relationship between environmental shifts and changes in prehistoric people’s tools and settlement patterns. At the end of a cold period came the end of a particular type of chipped stone point used in hunting; when surface water temperatures cooled, burial traditions shifted.

Archeologists have long debated how environmental changes shaped the lives of people. Today, big sets of data are allowing them to look more closely at possible correlations between human and ecological changes in prehistory. Research published this month found that every time the climatic needle jumped in the Northeast, so did human culture. That work builds on a 2005 study that looked closely at a 1,300-year mini ice age followed by rapid warming, and the simultaneous abrupt change in both the landscape and hunting tools.....



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