The aftermath of 1492 – Study shows how Native American depopulation impacted ecology
Many scholars claim that disease struck the native population shortly after their first contact with Europeans, and spread with such ferocity that it left tell-tale fingerprints on the global climate. Others, however, argue that — though still devastating — the process was far more gradual, and took place over many years.
A new Harvard study, however, suggests both theories are wrong.
Led by Matt Liebmann, the John and Ruth Hazel Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology, a team of researchers was able to show that, in what is now northern New Mexico, disease didn’t break out until nearly a century after the first European contact with Native Americans, coinciding with the establishment of mission churches.