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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Publication details

Wilkinson.T.J. (2005). Soil erosion and valley fills in the Yemen highlands and southern Turkey: Integrating settlement, geoarchaeology, and climate change. Geoarchaeology 20(2): 169-92.

Author(s) from Durham


Geoarchaeological studies of valley-fill sequences frequently do not employ the full range of human activities to explain the causes of deposition. This paper shows how records of environmental change from ocean cores and relict lakes can be integrated with geoarchaeological sequences from land and the record of long-term settlement and land use to provide a composite record of human-environmental interactions. On the high plains of Yemen, lakes and paleosols suggest that the ratio of precipitation to evaporation was higher between 12,000 and 7400 cal yr B.P. Atmospheric conditions then became drier from about 6000 cal yr B.P., after which time population increased and there was more evidence for human-induced erosion. Therefore, during the late Holocene (i.e., approximately the last 4000 years), human settlement increased in the face of a somewhat drier climate. It is evident that settlement in the northern Fertile Crescent also increased in the face of a drier late Holocene climate. It is argued that many of the distinctive valley fills that are evident in both the northern Fertile Crescent and southern Arabia result from the combined effect of both increase of settlement together with some degree of climatic drying.

Department of Archaeology

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