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Climate change is putting pressure on one of science’s earliest fields of discovery: archaeology.
Drought in the Colorado River basin is re-exposing centuries-old artifacts as lakes and rivers become mudflats. And where droughts aren’t happening, floods are — sometimes in quick succession with drought.
Consider the Mississippi River basin. Two and a half years ago, the basin experienced record-high flooding that devastated riverbanks and adjacent land loaded with artifacts dating to Mississippian civilization. Today, the river is so dry, shipwrecks are popping up from watery graves, including in the Lower Mississippi where Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, followed by French explorers who plied the river while claiming the region for King Louis XIV, calling it “Louisiane.”