Archaeology Seminar Series: Climate, Conflict, and Everyday Life in the Andes

During the Spring of 2023, Boston University’s Archaeology Program will be hosting a series of lectures. Our next lecture is titled “Climate, Conflict, and Everyday Life in the Andes.” We are thrilled to have our own archaeologist and scholar Dr. Jacob Bongers (Boston University) joining us to share his work and to engage in a conversation with the BU Archaeology community, Wednesday, February 22nd, 12:20-1:10, Gabel Museum of Archaeology, STO 253.


How have, and how can, humans respond to natural hazards and conflict? This talk outlines Dr. Bongers current project, which will explore how communities confront climatic hazards (e.g., drought, floods, etc.) and conflict in everyday life. He is investigating two large, fortified towns in coastal and highland Peru that date to one of the most turbulent periods in Peruvian history: the Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000–1400). This period is ideal for study because of the impacts of prolonged drought, intensified El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions, and widespread conflict that developed before the rise of the Inca Empire during the 15th century. Peru is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to drought and ENSO, which can devastate livelihoods by limiting water supplies, destroying agricultural fields, and fueling organized violence and mass migrations. Fieldwork at both fortified towns and laboratory analyses will reconstruct how coastal and highland communities managed risks of climatic hazards and violent threats through daily practices, such as food procurement, land-use strategies, and camelid husbandry. Such responses will be connected to contemporary risk-management strategies through community engagement. Public-facing workshops involving community members, researchers, and governmental and nongovernment officials will be held to bring archaeological findings into dialogue with contemporary Peruvians’ experiences mitigating natural hazards and conflict in daily life. This research will produce a blueprint for bridging archaeology, cultural heritage, and community engagement to motivate analyses of how climatic pressures impact the lives and decision-making of communities, both past and present.

Dr. Bongers Bio

Jacob L. Bongers is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar in the Archaeology Program at Boston University. He holds a Ph.D. in archaeology from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. Bongers employs multidisciplinary methodologies built around archaeological science and digital archaeology to investigate how Indigenous communities confront social and environmental change. His doctoral research examined how groups configured ritualized behaviors to deal with imperial conquest in southern Peru. His current research explores how Indigenous communities in highland and coastal Peru mitigate climatic hazards and conflict in everyday life. Prior to joining BU, Bongers served as a Senior Research Associate in the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UK). He has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Portugal, Chile, Ethiopia, Oman, and Peru.