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Showing posts from September, 2006

Past climate and people

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In these climatically uncertain times, its worth looking at how our ancestors responded to change.  If we want to investigate this theme, arguably the best interval of time worth probing is the last 11,500 years: a period rich in archaeological remains and synonymous with the development of agriculture and the emergence of civilisation.  Although it makes a lot of sense that the conditions had to be stable enough for these advances to be made, we now know that significant climatic changes took place throughout this period.  If we can get a handle on what effect these had, we should get an idea of how to deal with the changes predicted for the future.
One particularly impressive study has just been reported on east Saharan archaeological sites (DOI: 10.1126/science.1130989).  Looking at nearly 500 radiocarbon ages from 150 sites and comparing the results to climate reconstructions for the region, researchers have been able to show that there was very little human occupation of the Sahar…