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Monday, July 13, 2009

Scorched Earth: Fire, War, and Vietnam

Sifting through layers of sediment in Vietnam's Song Hong Delta, researchers weren't surprised to find charred evidence of ancient fires after several cultures migrated there about 5,000 years ago. Cycles of early blazes are tied to changes in the climate, when the area dried out, as well as to agriculture, as a means to clear land for planting. But what could explain a surge in singed land throughout the past 1,500 years?

War, it seems.

A collaborative effort between Vietnamese and Chinese researchers has linked data from the dirt to fashion a new understanding of fire in the area over the past 5,000 years, as humans became a more powerful force in the landscape. They describe their findings in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

link: Vietnam Burning: Warfare Scorched the Land for 1,500 Years: Scientific American


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