November 19, 2007

Sea level rise and the beginning of the Neolithic

From a EurekAlert release about this paper:
The researchers created reconstructions of the Mediterranean and Black Sea shoreline before and after the rise in sea levels. They estimated that nearly 73,000 square km of land was lost to the sea over a period of 34 years. Based on our knowledge of historical population levels, this could have led to the displacement of 145,000 people. Archaeological evidence shows that communities in southeast Europe were already practising early farming techniques and pottery production before the Flood. With the catastrophic rise in water levels it appears they moved west, taking their culture into areas inhabited by hunter-gatherer communities.

Catastrophic early Holocene sea level rise, human migration and the Neolithic transition in Europe

Chris S.M. Turney et al.


The collapse of the Laurentidenext term Ice Sheet and release of freshwater 8740–8160 years ago abruptly raised global sea levels by up to 1.4 m. The effect on human populations is largely unknown. Here we constrain the time of the main sea level rise and investigate its effect on the onset of the Neolithic across Europe. An analysis of radiocarbon ages and palaeoshoreline reconstruction supports the hypothesis that flooding of coastal areas led to the sudden loss of land favoured by early farmers and initiated an abrupt expansion of activity across Europe, driven by migrating Neolithic peoples.


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