Everyone knows the story of the post-World War II baby boom. What is little talked about is the massive baby boom that took place between 500 and 1300 AD. It occurred in the four-corners region of the American southwest.
Scientists took a look at multiple sites, and managed to come up with a chronological timeline of the indigenous population’s rise and complete collapse. It serves as a warning of the dangers of overpopulation.
Most Native American tribes were hunter-gatherers at the time, but quickly settled into a routine of farming Maize or corn. Teams could trace the time period in which the stone tools shifted away from those that could cut meat to those that were used for pounding grains.
Maize has actually been traced to the area as far back as 2000 BC, but it took time for the native societies to adjust to the new-found crop. It ended up providing around 80 percent of the natives’ calories. When you rely that heavily of farming, it makes the population highly susceptible to drought.
Birth rates slowly rose through 500 AD and began to fluctuate around 900 AD. Then the drought hit. One of the largest known droughts on record hit the Southwest in the mid-1100s. With the drought and other reasons, conflicts raged between the tribes.
What was a beacon of Native American civilization with 40,000 people in the region, emptied out within 30 years. Tim Kohler, one of the chief researchers, put out a statement saying we can learn from this mistake. Especially in this day and time.
Our reliance on technology and just-in-time delivery could end up being our Achilles heel.
The full research was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If you’re a history buff, it’s well worth the read.