University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Biological Anthropology Seminar Series > Climate crises: their social, technological and demographic impact on the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Angkor

Climate crises: their social, technological and demographic impact on the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Angkor

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From about AD 200 , the strength of the summer monsoon in Southeast Asia weakened, leading to a period of increasing aridity. This stimulated an agricultural revolution involving the construction of reservoirs and irrigation into permanent wet rice fields cultivated by ploughing. The social and demographic effects of this transition are explored through examining the houses and cemeteries of growing Iron Age towns, identifying the rise of elites, a sharp decline in human health, and onset of residential burial. The impact of wet rice farming on the health of Iron Age communities was immediate and profound. Increased population densities within Iron Age towns and the increasingly aquatic environment encouraged the proliferation of pathogenic species. It is suggested that this affected women’s health, seen in pre-term infant burials and a doubling of neonate mortality.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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