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From nomadic herder-hunters to sedentary farmers : the relationship between climate change and ancient subsistence strategies in south-eastern Arabia

Preston, G.W.; Parker, A.G.; Walkington, H.; Leng, M.J.; Hodson, M.J.. 2012 From nomadic herder-hunters to sedentary farmers : the relationship between climate change and ancient subsistence strategies in south-eastern Arabia. Journal of Arid Environments, 86. 122-130. 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.11.030

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Abstract/Summary

Despite the present hyper-aridity, archaeological investigations in South-east Arabia have demonstrated that the region supported extensive human communities throughout the Neolithic and Bronze Age. These early populations utilised the region’s natural environment in a variety of ways, ranging from the exploitation of coastal resources to practicing pastoral and agrarian lifestyles in the interior. Palaeoclimate data suggests the corresponding period was characterised by considerable climatic variability yet, to date, few studies have attempted to investigate the relationship between climate, the environment and early human populations in the region. This paper combines new high-resolution palaeoclimate data from Awafi palaeolake, United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the region’s archaeological record from the Neolithic through to the onset of the Bronze Age. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that the environment of South-east Arabia offered different constraints and opportunities for early human occupation and subsistence. In particular, abrupt phases of aridity are demonstrated to have had a profound impact. Most notable is the change which occurred following the onset of climatic aridity at 5900 cal yr BP, when the region’s semi-nomadic, herder-gatherer populations abandoned much of the landscape and concentrated in selected environmental refugia, such as along the northern Omani coast. Human repopulation during the Bronze Age coincided with a return to more pluvial conditions under which a network of oasis agricultural settlements appeared along the piedmont zone of the northern Hajar Mountains.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.11.030
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
ISSN: 0140-1963
Date made live: 19 Sep 2012 14:12
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/19642

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