Re: New world populations

PioneerTom (
25 Dec 1994 22:49:08 -0500 (Dan Moerman) writes:

"But it also seems to me that there might have been an equally broadscale
if smaller decline 200 years earlier. In most regions of north america,
there is evidence of population declines in the 13th century. The most
obvious are in the southwest with the abandonment of the anisazi towns and
cities of Chaco and regions nearby, and in the southeast, most
spectacularly with the apparent abandonment of Cahokia and a number of
related or similar major cities throughout the region. This is also a
period of major movements on the continent, most famously the move south
from (probably)...

I have speculated in private that Bristol fishermen actually found the
Great Banks cod fisheries in 1292, and, while trading for supplies with
indigenous people in Nova Scotia, introduced smallpox, or measles, or some
other disease which then rippled across the continent long before the more
devastating second wave of European disease two or three centuries later.
But I would never say that in public. . ."

A less complex theory of declines in population in the era 1200-1500 might
well be that the cooling noted by some scholars as beginning in Europe in
1200, and extending through about 1450, had many of the same effects in
North America as in Europe. In Scotland it was noted by 1300 that where
wheat had grown before, only oats would yield a harvest, where oats had
been planted before only groats would produce, where groats had been the
crop, people moved South or starved.

If the cold had similar effects in North America, then cultures dependent
on any particular set of foods might well be forced to move South(Apache,
etc.?) or if they had too strong an atatchment to a place or a crop, they
could have collapsed (Anisazi, Kaholia?). It is possible the entire
Northern Hemisphere was effected this way.

Tom Billings