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The phrase ‘love thy neighbor’ now has a scientific backing. In a new study conducted by the University of Arizona (UA), researchers suggest that the best way to withstand a crisis when disaster strikes, is by maintaining a healthy friendship with your next door neighbor.

The study, yet to be published by the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, revealed that communities more connected with their neighbors had a better chance of managing a crisis, as compared to communities with fewer outside connections. For the study, Lewis Borck from UA’s school of anthropology, and his team focused particularly on the period of AD 1200-1400 which included the 1276-1299 mega-drought that occurred in the region that is now south-western United States. To get a better understanding of how different communities interacted with one another during that time, the researchers examined data gathered by the US National Science Foundation-funded Southwest Social Networks Project that maintains a database of millions of ceramic and obsidian artifacts.

Borck and his team discovered that during the 23-year drought, relationships between many groups grew stronger as people turned to their neighbors for support and resources such as food and information.

In conclusion, the communities with larger social networks had a better chance of being able to withstand the drought. Similarly, being closer to your neighbors could help you in case of an emergency.

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