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“How Climate Change Spurred the Rise and Fall of Ancient Civilizations”

Climate change particularly changes in the monsoonprompted dramatic changes in how the peoples of ancient India lived. WHOI geologist Liviu Giosan, MIT-WHOI Joint Program student Camilo Ponton, and colleagues gathered evidence from sediment cores to reconstruct rainfall and flood patterns in the region over the past several thousand years. They found that as rainfall decreased, farms in northwest India failed and the advanced Harappan culture collapsed. At the same time, the drying trend changed native vegetation and drove nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived farther south on the Indian subcontinent to adopt farming and irrigation practices. (Illustration by Amy Caracappa-Qubeck, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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